Now bank chiefs have been sufficiently humiliated in the press, the media’s attention seems to be turning to a new credit crunch scapegoat: NHS managers.
It is a sign of the severity of the financial downturn that public sector managers are next in the firing line.
And last week’s revelations about Mid Staffordshire foundation trust handed critics an opportunity on a plate.
The Mid Staffs scandal was still casting its shadow at the weekend as newspapers vied to highlight the saddest patient stories from the trust.
Managers could be forgiven for starting to think it was common practice to hold an entire professional group to account for the actions of a few.
In The Observer, Andrew Rawnsley drew on Mid Staffs to take a swipe at senior public servants, with their soaring salaries and “gold-plated and mink-lined pensions”. University vice-chancellors, council chief executives, quango chiefs, hospital administrators, agency bosses and BBC managers had all grabbed “a thick slice of the high-rolling action”, Rawnsley pointed out, before warning that the party would soon be over for the public sector.
A quick summary of the main points of the Mid Staffs scandal later, he concluded: “Whether the culprits be bankers or hospital administrators, massive rewards for colossal failures have got to stop.”
The Sunday Telegraph has launched a campaign, Heal our Hospitals. Neatly ignoring the fact that the vast majority of UK hospitals have not had problems of a fraction of the severity of Mid Staffs, its demands include an inquiry into the way hospitals are regulated and supervised nationwide and a review of targets. The campaign also calls for nurses to “focus on patient care, not form-filling” and an “assurance that senior hospital staff will not be rewarded for failure”.
Only lawyers, who are “using the NHS as a £100m cash cow” by pocketing large no win, no fee compensation case payments (The Sunday Times) came close to challenging managers for a place in the stocks in what was a bleak week in the media for the NHS.