What I would have liked to hear Paul Burstow say more of this week

You might think it’s a small point, and it’s certainly not only applicable to Paul Burstow.

But in all the fallout since Panorama’s harrowing documentary this week, what a shame that so little has been said to praise the whistleblower who didn’t just try blowing the whistle once but again and again until he finally had success.

It’s been good to see Paul Burstow face up to the issue in the media and promise quick action to learn the relevant lessons. But no system is perfect and we’re always going to be reliant on whistleblowers as a crucial safety net.

It’s a shame that when politicians have been talking about the issue in the media so little credit and thanks has been given to Terry Bryan, the whistleblower.

It was thanks to his efforts that other people’s failures did not result in people suffering for even longer. So thank you Terry Bryan.

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7 Comments

  • Ian Stewart 2nd Jun '11 - 10:36pm

    ………but isn’t it so sad and disappointing that there needs to be a whistleblower………..the dignity of individuals balanced against the demands of authority; and there needs to be a brave individual to stand up and say “no….this is wrong”.
    I would hope that most visitors to this site would shout that the Emperor has no clothes.

  • I thank Terry Bryan as well. Our society needs more whistleblowers and it is a shame most companies do not encourage them. As someone who works with disabled/sick people and some with learning difficulties, I can assure you this is not an isolated case. In the past few years there has been a very noticeable shift in the way disabled and sick people, of all kinds, feel they are being treated. I know for a fact this is NOT an isolated incident. I cannot be more detailed, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.

    When this happens in our care homes and when mentally ill people, some more ill than those seen in Panorama, are committing suicide due to harsh welfare changes, successive governments of all colours need to take a long look in the mirror and recognise the monster they have created.

    On behalf of sick/disabled people and as an ill person myself – we don’t just ask, we BEG you to stop this. You do not have to stick to leaving the sick and disabled as the one group facing more cuts than any other in society. Unlike those poor souls in this supposed “care” home, and people who are powerless against the DWP and ATOS, you have a choice. And the power to change things.

  • Simon McGrath 3rd Jun '11 - 6:51am

    Mark, very good point.

    whistleblowers are often very badly treated despite their legal protections.

  • Tony Dawson 3rd Jun '11 - 8:18am

    Speaking as an NHS Whistleblower from the 1990s, who lost many tens of thousands and quite a bit of health as a result (despite winning a judicial review in the High Court), I shall say ‘amen’ to this.

    Why cannot the Coalition rush through a Bill for the restoration of Community Health Councils? No. I know they weren’t always the be-all and end-all of local inspection/accountability but some of them scared a lot of NHS managers into behaving a lot better than they otherwise would have done.

  • I very much agree with Marks article.

    it must have been extremely difficult and frustrating for Terry Bryan to report these incidents “Numerous” times, only to be ignored.

    He should be praised for his perseverance.

    We should also be thankful to the undercover reporter, who went in undercover as a career to record these horrific abuses. I can not begin to imagine how traumatic it must have been for him to restrain himself from blowing his cover by intervening in the abuse of the patients. He should be commended for his courage. Some people on other bloggs have been critical of the journalist for not intervening or reporting the abuses earlier to the police, Personally I think he did the right thing, he had to record these incidents over a period of weeks and then present the evidence, If he had done so earlier, the staff and the care home could have said it was an isolated incident.
    What the reporter did was courageous, and hopefully, by bringing all this evidence, not only will these so called “careers” face a successful prosecution, but he would also save many more vulnerable patients from similar torture and abuse in other care homes.

    It is incidents like this that strengthens my belief that ALL medicine, Caring, Nursing Homes, should be taken out of the Private sector and managed solely by the NHS.

    Private companies are out for “profit” and sadly that means a drop in standards of care IMO

    As Tax Payers, we are paying extortionate amounts of money to these “private” care companies, £3.5k a week per patient in some instances.

    Take the home in the Panorama programme for instance, what facilities where they actually providing for the patients? What Services where the patients receiving, and us, the Tax Payers?
    Absolutely nothing. The facilities where shocking, The day room, consisted of a TV and lounge chairs. How the heck is that appropriate for people with learning difficulties and other disabilities? Where were the facilities to encourage social interaction and learning, I certainly did not see any of this.
    All I saw was vulnerable patients being tortured and abused at the expense and the amusement of the care staff, who out of sheer boredom where obviously creating their own entertainment, due to the lack of proper facilities and an educational programme that “should” be paramount to the service for the residents, provided by the company.

    This company is charging us £3.5k a week per patient, for this service, Are you happy with that? as I sure as hell aint. How much do you think this “private” company is making from each patient? they sure as hell don’t seem to be spending very much on patient services, And I highly doubt it costs £3.5k a week to feed, house and employ these uneducated clowns to take proper care of these vulnerable people.

    How much does it cost us as tax payers for the Care Quality Commission? who are supposed to oversea these private care companies, carry out inspections and follow up on reports of abuse? How ever much it costs, it is clearly a waste of money and they are incompetent.
    Why does it always take a undercover reporter to expose these failures and abuses in the system?
    Why does the CQC not send in undercover employee’s themselves to inspect these companies, Rather than just the “announced” inspections, which are obviously a total waste of time, as the staff are hardly going to behave like that when there are inspectors in the building.

    The Government can say it is not to blame for these failures, because that is what the CQC is there for.

    Well in my opinion, when it comes to the health, care and wellbeing of our most vulnerable people in society, I want to see the government as being solely responsible for these people. Stop the NHS Reforms, Stop these private companies from milking the public purse, and put these patients back in the care of the NHS.

    Our country and Our Government are responsible for the well being of the most vulnerable people in our society, and as it stands we are failing them miserably, It’s a shame on us all.

  • Ruth Bright 4th Jun '11 - 2:02pm

    Well said Mark. It was good to hear Norman Lamb on Radio 4 making the point that the Care Quality Commission’s website states clearly that it welcomes feedback about services but DOES NOT investigate individual complaints.

    A relative of mine works with vulnerable adults. The whistleblowing policy of his organisation states clearly that the whistleblower’s job will be protected if, and only if, the whistleblower keeps his or her complaints “in-house” and does not go to outside bodies or advocacy groups. Sadly, some wonderful care staff are not reporting their concerns because they fear losing their livelihoods.

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