Cheering Incompetence

When I found out that the last doctor to see Baby Peter failed to recognise a broken back and ribs – like the rest of the nation I thought she must be a terrible doctor. And she clearly was. However, I also read that she was a locum – and ever since then I have been digging and digging to find out why there was a locum and what lay beneath. I found out. And whilst I have no doubt that Haringey Labour Council and Sharon Shoesmith were first in line for retribution being the lead agency and lead individual, I have also had no doubt that there were other agencies who were just as bad – Lynne Featherstone

He was a mere 17 months old, and over an eight month period he was methodically tortured to death by Mommy Dreadful’s sadistic boyfriend, the Nazi worshiping Steven Barker. Given its entrenched imperious demeanour coupled with a determination to silence criticism on the part of Great Ormond Street Hospital, society’s vision becomes much less opaque when peering into the circumstances of a child like Baby P. The infant stood virtually no chance of surviving the horrendous fate that awaited him. Great Ormond Street Hospital, long at the centre of a dispute over its involvement in the death of the child, is now being exposed as a citadel of fear. The investigative journalist Andrew Gilligan, writing in the Daily Telegraph commented:

In emails, letters and secret internal reports, consultants at Great Ormond Street Hospital say that vital medical services have been "destroyed," patient safety is "at risk" and they have been "harassed and targeted" by management for raising their concerns. In one of the leaked letters, Dr Cathy Owens, one of the world's most eminent child radiologists and herself a Great Ormond Street consultant, says there is a "culture of fear" in the hospital with "malicious and vexatious targeting" of doctors who complain.

Owens is currently general secretary, and one time president, of the European Society of Paediatric Radiology. Not exactly a light weight that can be brushed aside by the GOSH regime of fear.

Christine Hall, an emeritus professor at Great Ormond Street, and who previously worked as a former Consultant for the hospital, commented after speaking with her former colleagues:

They and I have grave concerns about the management at the hospital, which has failed on all levels from the top down, fostered a divisive atmosphere and failed patients, who are not getting the treatment they need.

Both Owens and Hall, senior and serious health care professionals, convey the dark back drop against which the Baby P file was dealt with. The year before the child’s brutal demise a permanent consultant at the hospital was moved from her post. Dr Kim Holt had warned of a ‘very high risk’ of a tragedy at the clinic. To no avail. Since then the hospital's attempt to silence her with £120,000 hush money has been refused and while Holt has received an apology there has been no reinstatement.

The 150 year old flagship Great Ormond Street Hospital struts with an arrogance that is borne out of a past it can no longer sustain. It is resting on its laurels, basking in its reputation as ‘an internationally famous centre for child healthcare.’ Which explains the medical journal The Lancet opining in an editorial that ‘perhaps Great Ormond Street is just too important to be seen to fail, even when a child dies.’ Nevertheless, the NHS inspectorate, the Care Quality Commission, has downgraded the hospital’s status from "excellent" to "good" to "fair."

In the time honoured authoritarian response to any questioning the hospital management is trying to depict its critics as heretics, claiming that dissent was coming from only a "minority’ within and rejected the suggestion that a climate of fear existed. There was ‘no evidence that anyone has been targeted for raising concerns.’ Perhaps the hospital should start treating paranoia given that it suspects there is a lot of it about. 

Anyone with experience of probing dictatorial mindsets will be familiar with the ropes.

The institutional culture of inviolability that prevails at the hospital was recently demonstrated in a loutish display of machismo. Dr Jane Collins who is determined to hold on to her position as CEO come what may, despite the grave mishandling of the Baby P case, was given a standing ovation at a meeting of her supporters in the past fortnight. But Dr Steve White of the British Medical Association who attended described the ovation as "unseemly" and "triumphalist", leaving him ashamed of the hospital. Poignantly he said:

We would have done well to mark the end of the meeting by standing in dignified silence to respect the memory of Baby Peter and in quiet contemplation of the fact that we failed him utterly. Any member of the general public who witnessed the last five minutes of the meeting would have been absolutely appalled.

This rests uncomfortably against the more contrite attitude expressed by Baroness Blackstone, the Chair of the hospital’s Trust who wrote ‘the Trust has never hidden our role in the tragic death of Peter Connelly.’

They just cheered about it.


  1. Its a tragic indictment of the undermining of the NHS by people whose only motivation is money and power,and with unions now practically toothless,cases like baby P are going to become the exception rather than the rule Im afraid to say,

  2. Mackers, was at a meeting in Derry last night. BL's partner spoke informing those in attendence that she was told this week he could be die in within the next ten days. I'm somewhat surprised by this as I never believed they would allow a prisoner in his circumstances to die in jail. His weight is now down to 5st.5lbs and he is going blind: another startling fact is that he has spent the last 600 days in bed.

    It seems that Sinn Fein is not willing to use its power to save this man's life. Yet, should he die it will be under the terms of the GFA vis-a-vis licenced prisoners and for offences commited during the conflict. In this regard, BL is a political hostage.

  3. Alec that indeed is horrific news,it really doesnt look good for the lad.

  4. Alec,

    it is a serious issue. I have tried to get more information on his health condition and material situation and am waiting on something to come through. They will let a prisoner die in jail. They did it with Pol Kinsella and also did it with John Hanna, the former screw. SF has the ability to push his case but apart from an earlier flurry it is doing nothing that I can see. We will carry anything that we get on it but much much more needs done

  5. Mackers, I meant that to be a personal message rather than a comment. But now it is up then perhaps it can be given a good airing. This man is a deaths door based on what his partner reported last evening. We both know him well and know that he does not deserver to die in a prison hospital. Of course, you are spot on to cite the example of Paul Kinsella in Long Kesh. That was a terrible travesty and this case appears to be going the same way. Sinn Fein have called for his release but much more than that needs to be done at a political level. Public declarations fall far short of what is required to secure Brendan's release. Gerry Kelly shared time with this man and they fought the system together. What is he prepared to do? He is a constituent of Paul Maskey's: what is he prepared to do? Sinn Fein hold senior positions on the so call Justice committee with little or no benefit to people like Brendan Lillis. Actions speak louder than words. If something is not done very soon BL will die in a prison hospital cell and, in my opinion, that an indelible mark on those he once knew as friends and comrades.

  6. Alec,

    you have a facility to reach me via private comment so once it appeared on the blog Carrie loaded it as a public one. Still as you say it is better up than not. Gather as much detail as possible and we will see what can be done. As you point out there is a range of obstacles in the way of progress.

  7. In a recent exchange with Sean 'Spike' Murray via the AndyTown News, he informed me that Sinn Fein had been in the prison seven times since last year and in his words, 'were the only political party actively doing anything for the prisoners.'
    If they are doing so much about prisoners, why are we not better informed about Brendan Lillis?

  8. As well as SF the SDLP, Monica Mc Willams, Patrica McCabe and others have all been to the jail. The prisoners were most impressed by Mark Durkan above all others. Dispite the many visits from all of the above the prisoners felt compelled to resume their protest due to the lack of implementation of last years agreement.

    Perhaps Spike could spell out in detail what Sinn Fein have been doing all this time? And what are they doing to save Brendan Lillis from a certain grave?

  9. Alec,

    Mark Durkan at least does not have to pretend the prisoners are in for something he would never have done. He is as he always was. That will allow him to come across as much more genuine.

  10. Amongst other issues, I intend to ask Sean to list exactly what Sinn Fein have done for the prisoners.
    Hopefully he will be genuine in his response, because all of this is getting too serious for mind games.

  11. Nuala do you think he will answer your question hon,?I think what you will recieve back will be a bucket full of verbal diarrhea scripted either by Gorbels Gibney or trickey dickey Mc Auley,a load of crap and no substance, you may even be called a traitor and an enemy of the peace process.and because of your outspoken criticism of psf you will forfeit all the benefits that come with the gfa.