On Tuesday 12th July PACAC held an evidence session following the Ombudsman’s report investigations-into-unsafe-discharge-from-hospital. Only those in the know turned up as no date was given on the PACAC website and due to a ‘system glitch’ advance notification was not sent to those on the mailing list either. Consequently, the newly resigned Dame Julie Mellor was able to sit back with ease to listen to the unfolding debate. You can see it here: Oral evidence session 12.7.16
In traditional finger-wagging style the Ombudsman blames the NHS and Social Care for not working in an integrated way without a hint that this is directly due to a series of government acts which have served to divide social care from the NHS to allow for marketisation. The Ombudsman shares nine harrowing stories and uses emotive language such as ‘untold anguish’ which just goes to show that they can do empathy when it suits them. This report follows on from a similar one in 2011 and clearly there has been no improvement since the NHS received the benefit of their last ‘shine a light’ expose from the Watchdog.
If the Ombudsman was really concerned about poor hospital discharge she has a direct route to tackle it – robust investigation, followed by sanctions requiring action plans for those Trusts found culpable. She could come down hard on the poor hospital discharge and now that PHSO work hand in glove with LGO they could tackle both sides of the problem in an integrated fashion. But this is not what the Ombudsman does and we have the evidence to prove it. First-hand cases where PHSO have turned a blind eye to unsafe hospital discharge, allowing it to continue unchecked until the next report comes round.
We submitted evidence to PACAC to that effect. This overview from the Pressure Group wasn’t published until after the start of the meeting, although it was submitted at the end of June. None of the witnesses could have read it in advance and I doubt many read it afterwards.
Another group member submitted their own first-hand experiences of PHSO’s casual disregard for poor hospital discharge. Teresa Steele‘s was accepted by PACAC on 7.6.16 but removed on 13.7.16. It would appear that true accounts of ‘untold anguish’ ignored by Dame Julie Mellor and her team, are of no interest to PACAC, the witnesses or the wider public.
The narrative so carefully maintained by Dame Julie Mellor and her government supporters in PACAC is that the Ombudsman cares, the Ombudsman wants to see improvements and that something is being done to prevent future suffering.
None of it true, but then truth is such an overrated commodity.
Editor’s update: 25.7.16
Eventually, redacted versions appeared on the PACAC website, too late to make any difference. You can see them here: PACAC inquiry evidence
The evidence that PHSO cry only crocodile tears is revealed in this FOI request. Unsafe hospital discharge records Although the new report acknowledges the level of harm caused by unsafe hospital discharge, PHSO do not store this information on a searchable database. It is not a ‘key word’. In order to identify hotspots or improvements it would be necessary to manually search each case file. This does not look like an organisation with any genuine intention to make improvements in this area and PACAC do not look like a parliamentary body with any intention to pull them up on this fundamental failure. Like a Russian show trial in reverse, PACAC continually take the guilty and find them innocent.