NHS THREAT: Addenbrookes: Don’t mistake the symptom for the disease

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Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge, is a damned good place to be if you are ill. It is a good hospital. Its reputation remains unsullied and world wide. Yet now the CQC, the government’s health quality “watch-dog” has seen fit to put it into “special measures“, a sign of failure. Why?

The fault lies not with the hospital but with the way “faults” are now being judged. The CQC’s inspection regime has been roundly criticised as “unworldly” and even “Kafkaesque” by senior managers who really do know when a hospital is struggling. In other words, the way this hospital being judged is itself broken: the guardians are flawed.

Why should that be? What on earth is the point of having hospital “inspectors” who are judging something in a way that makes even-handed judgement difficult to impossible? Is that the way to run and improve an public service, with public money, with the common good of the people at heart?

No. Because that isn’t the real agenda. The true driver of all this is not openness, accountability, the fair airing of areas where improvement in a public service can be made. That’s not the point at all. The point is to skew the system so that it’s nigh-impossible for a trust, in the face of crippling cuts year on year, to avoid damning “inspection” reports and be put into “special measures” – formerly the last-ditch stop of a failing hospital – when all it needed was the cash to survive. Cash which it, and the rest of the service, is denied. Year on year.

And the point of all that? To run the service down. To trigger more complaints. To promote the belief that the NHS is “inefficient” and somehow “doomed”. This winter has already been predicted to be the one where the NHS finally snaps. And then? Behold, “the answer”: “personal health budgets”, more “competitive tendering”, more handing over of NHS services to private providers, who are always portrayed as “better” when the evidence supporting that is, quite simply, as unworldly as the inspection regime promoting this entire nefarious process.

Addembrookes: the latest symptom of the privatisation disease. It needs curing, not cutting away. The NHS needs help. People need to realise what is really happening. And see the disease for what it is.

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