‘We will all miss the traffic lights and star ratings, its mission to condemn and flagellate, and the valuable role it has fulfilled for the Department of Health in shutting stable doors after horses have bolted’

To: Don Wise, chief executive

From: Paul Servant, assistant chief executive

Re: Adieu but not au revoir

Dear Don

So, farewell then to the Healthcare Commission, an organisation that never judged itself the way it judged others. Perhaps that is why it is ceasing to exist. It would be fascinating to discover what a staff survey might reveal about the commission, how it scored on waiting times or how effective it has been in its use of resources.

We will all miss the traffic lights and star ratings, its mission to condemn and flagellate, and the valuable role it has fulfilled for the Department of Health in shutting stable doors after horses have bolted. It has uncovered many evil doings that journalists and politicians pointed it towards and been studious in the sophistication of its enquiries and monitoring. After all it takes real flair to unfailingly conclude that every failure in the NHS is the fault of incompetent local leaders.

And it has effortlessly kept pace with the bandwagons of condemnation for incompetent managers, while identifying training and development opportunities for clinicians and nurses not doing what they are trained to do: such as washing hands, keeping people alive and not treating patients like cadavers.

The commission has also never found government targets or policies at fault. After all, the “independent” commission uses the targets to measure everyone else. How could it question the impact of pursuing targets without compromising the foundations of its core beliefs? So, our regulators had no-go areas that tended to be the ones that more than one of their targets have stumbled over… hmmm.

So adieu to the Healthcare Commission, but not au revoir, as we greet the Care Quality Commission. It’s bright and fresh, and has staff from the predecessor commissions. Oh good! I can see the benefit of having as many regulators as possible in one place at one time. Come the revolution.