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SURGEONS PRESCRIBE THE CHOP FOR SIR LIAM

15-01-2008

Trying to get your own boss sacked is a bold move, but heedless of the risk Stirrer blogger Dr David Nicholl is renewing his call for the removal of the Chief Medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson. Here’s why.

Since November, I have been trying to put as much pressure on the Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, to resign over the much maligned junior doctors training fiasco, Modernising Medical Careers (MMC).

I, and 10 other programme directors in neurology and surgery wrote to our respective MPs to register our concerns over his competence. Some may say that this is a courageous move to, in effect, have your boss sacked, especially given the treatment of NHS whistleblowers in the last week.

The BMA have been calling for him to resign since June last year, but like a limpet he won’t budge.

This week I had the reply from the Department of Health. Ann Keen, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health, wrote to say, “We do not agree…these were highly complex issues, and we have acknowledged that the governance arrangements should have been better.

“However, we have also stated clearly that accountability did not rest with a single person and was spread widely…I hope this reply is helpful.”

Not really a surprise, but it does raise the question of what does it take to get sacked as a high ranking public official?

Indeed I know of one colleague who tried to have Liam Donaldson reported to the General Medical Council on grounds of poor management and governance. The request was ignored, but when my colleague persisted, he was told that MMC did not affect patients, so the complaint was not valid.

Ironically, it would appear that the GMC is not an ‘organisation with a memory’ a term Liam Donaldson himself coined when talking about patient safety. When there was a scandal at the Bristol Royal Infirmary over the death rates from cardiac surgery in the 1990s, the chief executive of the hospital, Dr Roylance, was struck off by the GMC because he had been made aware of the problems in Bristol, but he looked the other way and did nothing.

As a consequence Dr Roylance was struck off for serious professional conduct even though he had no direct patient contact with those who died.

With regard to MMC, Liam Donaldson was warned repeatedly over several years of the problems ahead with MMC, but ignored the advice of all, and went on ahead like a steamroller.

Last year, there was a media storm to try and get Sir Ian Blair, the chief of the Met, to resign over the tragic death of one man, Jean Charles Menezes.

This was undoubtedly a tragic case, but there has been, as yet, no media frenzy to have Liam Donaldson sacked, even though the effects of his actions have an influence on all of us, and at the very least will cost the taxpayer millions.

When it is widely accepted that this year will be even worse than last, is it not time that those responsible should be held to account?

See also “Chief Medical Officer Should Have Quit – Lord Owen” see link here

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