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‘Normalisation of cruelty’ across NHS – Hunt

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt highlighted poor care as one of the biggest problems facing the NHS in a hard-hitting speech at The King’s Fund yesterday.

He warned that staff at the top of NHS organisations could lose their jobs if care was not good enough, in the same way as they are held to account over finances.

Citing examples of terrible care seen at Winterbourne View and Stafford hospital, Hunt reiterated the vital need for dignity and respect for all patients.

He said: “The most worrying thing is the fact that in certain institutions this kind of care appears to have become normal. In places that should be devoted to patients, where compassion should be uppermost, we find its very opposite: a coldness, resentment, indifference, even contempt.

“Go deeper and look at the worst cases like Mid Staffs and Winterbourne View, and there is something even darker: a kind of normalisation of cruelty where the unacceptable is legitimised and the callous becomes mundane.

“Most managers get this … but too many do not. Buried in spreadsheets they become blind to the realities of what is happening day on day inside their organisations. It’s this whole culture of ticking the box but missing the point which is what we have to put right.

“And we have to be much clearer about the consequences that follow if leaders fail to lead, fail to drive high quality care throughout the organisation. Just as a manager would not expect to keep their job if they lost control of finances, why should they if they lose control of care? Accountability must be stretched to the top.”

(Image of Jeremy Hunt courtesy University of Salford, used here under a Creative Commons licence)

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Gurmit   30/11/2012 at 09:48

Compassion should be at the centre of care. IN the midst of protocols of and targets, maybe we should have a target for compassion and let us see who has the greatest.

Brian   04/12/2012 at 10:19

Demotivated staff who do not get pay rises or resources (Tory budget cuts) are likely to not "care" as much as they did under the previous government! Hunt doesn't "care" or he would ensure that resources were there and being used wisely. Blame the workers (including top managers) when things are failing, rather than those in charge!

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