We have been campaigning strongly against the way our local health Trust, Barts Health, has been managing our local health services.
We will continue to criticise where we think things are going wrong for the people of Tower Hamlets.
But I want here to spare a thought for those who work for the Trust.
Reading the reports of those who use the Trust’s services a clear message shines through. People often report real problems getting access to medical services. However, when they do get access, they report great service, from dedicated, skilled professionals.
These health professionals are supported by hard working, and often low paid, staff: cleaners, cooks, technicians and administrative staff.
The staff of course have been in the front line of the problems. They have faced forced downgrading in their pay grades. Why should these staff pay the price of cuts, mismanagement and disastrous PFI arrangements? What can be more demoralising than being told that you are no longer worth the grade you have already achieved?
They have faced threats and intimidation, and in at least one case the sack for doing no more than speaking out about their concerns at the Trust.
One of the most worrying findings in the recent CQC report is the existence of a bullying culture. Lets be clear about what this means. It means that where employees were so concerned about things happening in the trust that they wished to complain about it, that the managers would bully them into withdrawing their complaints. The effect of this was to make it plain that complaints would not be tolerated. This is an outrage. The services provided often relate to matters of life and death. If there are failures or concerns, it is absolutely appalling that these managers had the nerve to try to suppress them. This suggests that some managers would prefer to allow dangerous or unsatisfactory practices to continue than to have any failings in their organisation exposed.
Against this background it is heroic that the staff have continued to struggle and have provided first class medical care. We know they were able to do this more often than not.
I for one want to pay tribute to the staff who continue to get on, every day, with providing these vital medical services. We need to free these people to get on with the job to which they have dedicated themselves. It is as a result of the commitment which they continue to demonstrate that I know that the future can work, if the proper funding and support is provided.