Published: 30/05/2002, Volume II2, No. 5807 Page 14

The NHS labours under three 'organisational lies', Dr Aidan Halligan, head of the NHS clinical governance support team, claimed.'The first one is that We are patient-centred.That is just not the case, 'he told delegates.'If you said to a group of health service professionals that patient experience was the most important thing, there would be silence.They'd agree subliminally, but they'd be dying to say: 'What about the MRI scan?'But they will not say it, because it is politically incorrect.'Dr Halligan said his team visited around 450 trusts and often found little sign of a partnership with patients.He told the story of how a late termination of an unviable pregnancy was delayed at short notice because two junior staff had to go home.'Where was the manager with the responsibility to find two extra staff?'The second 'lie' was that the NHS displayed widespread teamwork.Much evidence linked good workplace and human resources practice and low mortality.Too many NHS organisations did not recognise the importance of teamwork.The NHS's third 'lie'was that professionals spoke out in the face of poor performance or when colleagues displayed inappropriate behaviour.They 'didn't know how to respond', Dr Halligan claimed, because there 'wasn't the latitude on the [NHS] agenda to have those discussions'. Even if possible, he said, the chance of getting a meaningful response was slim.