Simon Carr: Save us from fafferati telling those who know what to do what to do

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Lunch was at the think tank Civitas where Lord Maurice Glasman, the originator of "Blue Labour", gave a superb exposition of what some call "Daily Mail socialism". I'd gone to scoff, having read the e-book from his "Oxford conferences". I'd been misled by Ed Miliband's endorsement and Stewart Wood's description of "the centrality of life beyond the bottom line".

Nor had I realised Glasman has Hayek in his bloodstream. When the Parliamentary Labour Party realise how tasty his philosophy is, they'll eat him alive. I mean there'll be nothing left of him. One of his enemy targets is that wide conspiracy of over-educated, self-soaping professionals "who don't know what to do telling people who do know what to do what to do."

Having come fresh from the Health Select Committee listening to 90 minutes of the Care Quality Commission, this had a particular resonance. Dame Jo Williams (greeted as "Jo" by the chair) and Amanda Sherlock were two top-level members of the fafferati that regulate and inspect the quality of healthcare in this country.

Their chief executive – and I can feel my chest tightening as I type the words – is Cynthia Bower, the quangocrat who ran the health authority responsible for the Mid Staffs hospital debacle, where hundreds needlessly died. She was criticised for taking the hospital's assurances at face value, without sufficient scrutiny. They're great lesson-learners – so they say. It was only a lack of prosecution talent on the committee that let them get away with saying it. Rosie Cooper – bless her – was so overcome with what she was trying to say, she took too long to say it and then got lost in the saying.

The nub of it was: "The information you act on is provided by the hospitals themselves." And she noted – without mentioning Ms Bowers – that Mid-Staffs during the period of carnage got "20 out 25 for 'privacy and dignity' and 9 out of 10 for 'governance'."

"We have learned a great deal," the committee was told earnestly. "But the very people filling in the forms are, by virtue of their illness, the ones least likely to be able to tell you the truth!"

The risk-evaluation system used is "as powerful as any set of statistics in existence", the committee was firmly told.

So what about dementia patients being put to bed at 3.30 in the afternoon because each patient takes half an hour and there aren't the staff to start later, Andrew George asked?

Dame Jo said carefully: "The evidence you have put forward – we'll have to take that away and look at it."

But it's not exactly news, is it?

Rosie gasped for everyone on the committee: "When this is televised, you'll find families screaming at the TV."

And no one will hear them, she didn't add.





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