I was going to keep off this subject as I have not had the opportunity to read any detail of the report. However, according to today's Daily Mail, the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has come round to my way of thinking in that he has called for a police investigation into the Stafford Hospital scandal which led to the deaths of up to 1,200 people. And that is as it should be.
Can you imagine any activity other than the NHS where a business could be suspected of causing that many deaths and not subjected to a rigorous police investigation? Whether it is a factory suspected of causing deaths due to pollution, a train crashing for any reason or a drug company whose product had an unforeseen side effect, the police would be involved in the investigation right from the start to ensure that the incident was not a result of criminal negligence. At the least there would be a public clamour for corporate manslaughter charges against those at the top of the businesses concerned.
So why no Police investigation so far? Why didn't they ask any questions when the relatives started their campaign to draw public attention to the situation. I appreciate that there would be difficulties as the evidence is partly statistically based and it is hard to use such data to make a case. But I'm convinced that a police investigation, with witnesses being interviewed under caution, would not only bring out more information than the official report, but would stand a good chance of identifying those with the primary responsibility for these deaths.
And a further thought. Perhaps there is a case for the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) asking why the local force didn't carry out any enquiries when it became apparent that something was wrong. For all that was known at the time, there could have been another Dr Shipman working in the hospital, but seemingly the police didn't care. We should be told exactly what the police, and indeed the local coroner, did or did not do as a result of the public disquiet.
Without such enquiries, all those with major responsibilities, including Sir David Nicholson, now chief executive of the NHS, will get off Scott free.
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