Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

If Someone Could Have Saved Mothers and Babies by Taking Action, We Need to Know

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

If Someone Could Have Saved Mothers and Babies by Taking Action, We Need to Know

Article excerpt


AYEAR ago, at the time of the disclosure of the abuses at Winterbourne, a home for vulnerable adults, I wrote that the Care and Quality Commission, which oversees hospitals and care homes, was useless.

Since then the unnecessary deaths and neglect at Stafford hospitals have been revealed and there are other worrying reports in the pipeline.

Before the publication of one such report, on failure to investigate baby deaths at an NHS trust, the commission has cleared out its senior executive team.

Cynthia Bower, who was in charge of the CQC during most of the debacles, left last year. The executives leaving now, who were all on six-figure salaries, are likely to walk away with substantial termination payments. This in spite of the fact that they unconditionally registered the Morecambe Bay Trust in April 2010 despite warnings from their own regional director of 'systematic failures' in the maternity services and a likely risk of further tragedies if changes were not made.

Subsequently, they failed to expose rising numbers of baby deaths and allegedly tried to cover them up.

It was not until the autumn of 2011, when the trust's hospitals had the worst mortality rates in the country, that the CQC acted. By then it was too late.

An independent inquiry and police investigation will examine 16 deaths of mothers and babies.

What will happen when that report comes out? Have the executives been fired to protect them from the possible consequences of their actions? Will there be any consequences when the report is published? If someone could have saved those mothers and babies by taking prior action, we need to know.

No easy resolution to this Afghan issue AT first glance, there seems no excuse for not offering safe haven to Afghans who volunteered to act as interpreters for our troops in Afghanistan. Without them, the job of restoring order would have been much more difficult.

But then you start to think of other Afghans who have worked with the occupying forces. Police, the security forces and the Afghan army, trained by us. What will happen to them? And even if we could make them all welcome in this country, what hope would there be for a population left without their protection? On balance, I still think we should take in the interpreters because of their isolated state, but the whole problem is not as easy as at first it seems.

Why was the media so disinterested? FOR the past 13 years I have compered the Youth for Youth concerts, latterly in the magnificent theatre at the Royal Grammar School in Newcastle.

Over the years, a wealth of talented young people performed to raise money for the young people of Belarus orphaned in the Chernobyl atomic meltdown. The concerts were organised by Chernobyl Continuity, led by Brenda Dinsdale, and the money raised brought teenagers to Britain for a restorative break. …

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