Saturday, August 13, 2011

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Sun knows better than the Supreme Court

There's an entry on my The Sun Says blog with the same title as this post because of an editorial saying that baby P is being denied justice. The way to do that is apparently to 'wipe the floor' with Sharon Shoesmith. The Sun accuses welfare officials of passing the buck. As I've also pointed out in a previous entry, the public sacrifice of Sharon Shoesmith seems to be an accepted expedient of modern day politics.

Maybe the political response to the News of the World phone hacking scandal might mean that this kind of kowtowing to the tabloid press can change. Ed Miliband has been praised for showing leadership on the phone hacking issue. He needs also to challenge the government on whether it thinks it is above the supreme court (see previous entry) on the Sharon Shoesmith case (and ignore Ed Balls' likely protests). He needs to ask why the Sun thinks it knows better than the supreme court. That would show real leadership.

I did warn before the election that David Cameron was 'backing the wrong horses' in Rebecca Brooks and James Murdoch (see blog entry) and this has been proved right with the phone hacking scandal. I specifically highlighted at that time the past misdemeanours in the Sun's campaign against Sharon Shoesmith. Politicians need to stand up to press influence on this kind of issue as much as phone hacking.

Supreme Court tells government to listen to Sharon Shoesmith

As I predicted in a previous post, the Supreme Court has refused leave to appeal in the Sharon Shoesmith case (see Guardian article). Worryingly, the government still thinks it was "right in principle for Sharon Shoesmith to be removed from her post as director of children's services".

Presumably the government thinks that the court ruling is just saying that Ed Balls went about dismissing Shoesmith in the wrong way. Again, as I said in the previous post, the court wasn't just saying there should have been a meeting between Balls and Sharon Shoesmith but that she should have been given the opportunity to put her case. The government still doesn't seem willing to listen to this case. I agree with Ed Balls that urgent action from the government is required, but not because of a "constitutional ambiguity", which is what he says is the problem.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Have NHS Foundation Trusts got a future?

The government has published its plans for the introduction of any qualified provider into the NHS (see operational guidance). This confirms that the implementation will be gradual and, at least initially, quite limited.

Nonetheless, as I said in a previous post, this is the main substantive reform of the NHS. The rest has mainly been yet another structural reorganisation, which staff in the NHS have become fatigued with over the years. Just changing the structure doesn't improve the service and it costs a lot of money that could have been spent on services.

And, as Oliver Letwin has made clear (see Guardian article), this government thinks the way to improve productivity in the NHS is to create fear that publicly provided services will not survive. Actually the way to stimulate NHS Foundation Trusts is to support them, not undermine them.

With the introduction of other providers, the share of the market for NHS Foundation Trusts will inevitably reduce. Unless the political will changes, Anglia Mental Health Community Interest Company is planning to provide primary care psychological therapies, including systemic family therapy for identified children's problems, before moving on to develop a full range of mental health services. And I say this as a current governor of a Foundation Trust (I have declared my interest), who believes in representing the public interest.