Children’s tears are powerful marketing symbols. But we should not forget that it was Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) which provided the community paediatric services that so dreadfully failed Baby Peter, who was tortured and killed by his parents. He died in August 2007, aged a mere 17 months.
Great Ormond Street paediatrician Dr Sabah al-Zayyat failed to notice Baby Peter’s terrible injuries two days before he died, despite his having been tortured for eight months. These injuries, quite incredibly, included a broken back. Baby Peter was seen by health professionals 35 times. Nothing was done. Yet Great Ormond Street Hospital receives many millions of pounds from both the taxpayer and charitable donors to ensure that children like Baby Peter receive high quality care. Care is the least appropriate word to describe what Baby Peter received.
A report issued today by yet another quango (YAQ), the Care Quality Commission, highlights a long list of failings. Cynthia Bower, the YAQ’s Chief Executive, tells us that Great Ormond Street Hospital “should have [had] concerns about this child but the response was not fast enough or smart enough… Staffing levels were not adequate, the right training was not universally in place. Social care and healthcare were not working together.” At GOSH’s St Ann’s clinic, where Dr Sabah al-Zayyat failed to notice Baby Peter’s broken back, four NHS consultants had written a joint letter to managers complaining that there was a “high risk” of failure in child protection, given chaotic patient records and staff shortages, a year before Baby Peter died. Yet, in today’s NHS, it is not the views of medical consultants that get a hearing: the management consultancies, the remuneration consultancies and the YAQs are what counts on the NHS gravy train.
So, inadequate staff, poorly trained, failing children. Great Ormond Street Hospital says that it is ”truly sorry Peter suffered and died”. Have we seen an honourable resignation from Great Ormond Street? Are any of the highly paid executives, who are happy to outline their responsibilities when climbing aboard the NHS gravy train or claiming an inflation-busting pay rise and bonus, willing to take responsibility when the issue is a child’s life rather than a ‘total remuneration package’? We all know we won’t see a resignation.
Great Ormond Street Hospital ignores the Court of Public Opinion at its peril. Should we, the public, reward an expansive NHS Trust, which already enjoys a massively disproportionate charitable income yet fails in its basic child protection provision so badly, with yet more of our hard-earned cash? Think twice before you shed a tear for Great Ormond Street Hospital. There are many other deserving charities which might use your money better. GOSH!