Wednesday, 12 June 2013

A lawyer writes.


       BOOK ‘EM DANNO !

This is an extract from an article in the “Mail on Sunday” 10/6/13. I’ve cut it back a lot – just to the facts. The Police are ‘looking into it’, into the 600 to 1200 unnecessary deaths at Mid-Staffordshire hospitals.

It’s a silly article – the Mail is reflecting the cynical outlook of the Health Secretary. Prosecute staff.

This Police investigation raises peoples hopes, costs a lot of money, will achieve nothing – but it looks as though something is being done and will take so long to get anywhere that by the time the Police report comes out everyone will have forgotten about it all.  It creates a climate of fear in what should be a caring profession.

Proving neglect by staff is really difficult, it’s much ‘easier’ to show where someone has been maliciously harming patients – things usually tend to go wrong when that particular person is on shift.

With neglect – there are three 8 hour shifts a day, agency staff, sickness, courses – in a week that means many Nurses, many Doctors on each ward, so all the Police can do is look at the paper work – are all the boxes ticked? They will be.

The boxes will be ticked even if nothing was actually done.

Corporate manslaughter?  Very difficult to prove – they would have to show that the system in place was inadequate – it won’t be. On paper these hospitals will have had good systems, it’s just the system was ignored as long as the paperwork was up to date.

So there won’t be any proof of what wasn’t done or who failed to do things.

Here it is;

“Staffordshire police began reviewing deaths at Stafford and Cannock hospitals in February, after the public inquiry chaired by Robert Francis QC published its report.

Along with representatives from the Crown Prosecution Service and medical regulators, they examined patients’ post-mortem examination and medical notes, complaints from families, and five major reports into care at the hospitals.

Assistant chief constable Nick Baker said: ‘Between 2005 and 2009, there were 4,253 deaths at Stafford Hospital. However, we’ve identified between 200 and 300 cases where alleged neglect may have contributed to a patient’s death and they are being thoroughly reviewed.’ He said the force and the Health and Safety Executive ‘are examining whether or not there’s any new information which has come to light which could lead to a previous criminal investigation being re-opened, or to an entirely new investigation’.

He continued: ‘Our next step will be to establish if there’s any realistic potential for criminal charges and prosecution. ‘This is a complex, large-scale review which needs to be detailed, thorough and sensitive. At this stage we cannot be clear about timescales, but we do anticipate that this will take many months.’

Emma Jones, a solicitor at Leigh Day – a firm representing more than 100 victims’ families – said: ‘That there is enough evidence for possible charges in 200 to 300 cases is serious, as neglect is very difficult to prove.

‘It is our understanding that charges will be under the Corporate Manslaughter Act, and that means the people who formed the trust board at the time would be looked at and have to give evidence and explain why, under their watch, such a number of deaths could have happened unnecessarily.

The Francis report described the scandal as a ‘story of terrible and unnecessary suffering of hundreds of people’. It said they were ‘failed by a system which ignored the warning signs of poor care, and put corporate self-interest and cost control ahead of patients and their safety’.

It has also emerged that hundreds of NHS staff who tried to blow the whistle over poor care were paid off for their silence.”

As I said, with a good lawyer, no one will be convicted.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

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