One of the predilections of health ministers, hospital trust executives, trades unionists and Labour politicians in recent years has been to accuse the Daily Mail of scare-mongering about the NHS.
Whether highlighting the terrible toll of MRSA, criticising the excessive generosity of contracts for doctors that promise more money for less work, exposing the decline in nursing standards, or the destructiveness of the target culture, or the profligate use of money, or the wickedness of the Liverpool Care Pathway — the most recent matter on which the Mail’s view has proved entirely justified — this newspaper has been accused of seeking to undermine the NHS.
The truth, however, is now clear, and the Mail — which always pays credit to the countless selfless health workers in the NHS — has been vindicated.
A report published yesterday by Sir Bruce Keogh, the medical director of NHS England, delivered damning verdicts on the standards of care and mortality rates of 14 NHS trusts, 11 of which were so bad they are being put into special measures.
Sir Bruce’s inquiry looked back as far as 2005, when Labour was still in power, and five years after Tony Blair had promised radical improvements to — and increases in spending on — health care.
As such, the report is a devastating indictment of Labour’s perennial claims to being the party of the NHS, in whose hands it is uniquely ‘safe’.
What is worse, from Labour’s point of view, is that as well as allowing patients to needlessly die, under the Blair and Brown governments the NHS connived to suppress the truth about scandals that, if disclosed, would have embarrassed ministers.
On top of this, it excoriates the Care Quality Commission, set up by Labour in 2009, and its claim that it had inspected half of the 14 trusts under investigation and found them ‘compliant’ with basic standards.