The Fairy Tale
The Trust’s New Clothes
(with apologies to Hans Christian Andersen)
Once upon a time the managers of a hospital were approached by some government ministers. They said they had developed a wonderful new gold thread, which was lightweight, easy to clean and would eliminate hospital-borne infections. They demonstrated their skills in tailoring, but the managers were completely perplexed, as they could see nothing at all! Seeing their anxious faces, the government was at pains to put them at ease.
The ministers said that if the wearer could not see the thread, it showed that they were incompetent and unfit for their job. Not wishing to appear foolish, one of the managers said, “Of course – I was just admiring the exquisite texture of the cloth”. The others nodded their heads in agreement.
When the new uniforms were ready, at great cost to the hospital which had to make cuts to staffing levels in order to make ends meet, the managers queued up excitedly to try them on. They commented on the fine texture of the cloth, how well the uniform fitted and how practical it was. Each of them in turn was astonished to find that they could see nothing at all, but, of course, they were all afraid to speak out, so instead they all joined in the chorus of admiration.
To gain approval for the new uniforms, the managers had to parade around the county, showing it to all and sundry. Questionnaires were provided to let the populace know about the plans for the new uniform. Word had spread that only those who were incompetent could not see the uniform and everyone filled in glowing praise on the forms for the new designs.
As the managers were parading themselves proudly in front of a public meeting, a solitary voice piped up at the back, “But they have got no clothes on!”
The public saw through the ministers’ plans and fought back against them. They managed to repair their old uniforms, which had grown very threadbare of late, as the cloth had been stretched thinner and thinner to pay for the gold material. They protested and organised themselves to fight to protect the founding principles of their hospital – that care should be made freely available to all at the point of need, and that no-one should profit from the illness of others. They all lived happily every after.
A report by the Healthcare Commission into Mid Staffordshire Foundation NHS Trust found that receptionists were assessing patients in A&E, thirsty patients had to drink from flower vases, blood was left on seats in the waiting area and patients were left to lie in their own urine and faeces. This was due to staff shortages as managers cut services to the absolute minimum in order to pave the way for Foundation Trust Status.
Mid Staffs NHS Trust has been described as a “third world” hospital. Yet this is in one of New Labour’s “flagship” NHS Trusts. Foundation Trusts mean privatisation, more bureaucracy and meaningless targets rather than decent patient care for all. We need to campaign to scrap PFI and Foundation Trusts and end the parasitical role of the private sector in the NHS once and for all.
The NHS is not safe in New Labour’s hands
We need to fight to save the NHS. Anyone who is reading this who is a member of a hospital applying for FT status – please send them a letter saying you have changed your mind and want to leave. This awful policy can’t happen if we don’t sign up to it. Join campaigning groups such as Keep Our NHS Public and support political parties such as the Socialist Party and the health trade unions, who are campaigning to keep the founding principles of the NHS intact.