In the wake of the reports this week of the terrible deaths at Stafford Hospital and the failures at Birmingham Children's Hospital which potentially could have caused serious harm to patients, the Liberal Democrats have warned against the culture of frenzied target setting that has been introduced into the NHS by the Labour Government and hospital trusts who have not responded quickly to safety issues.
Facing the prime minister at Question Time, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg pointed out that doctors at Stafford Hospital had confirmed that they were instructed by their managers to abandon seriously ill patients and to treat people with minor ailments instead in order to meet the Prime Minister's targets. He challenged Gordon Brown to scrap the mad targets that make hospitals tick boxes rather than look after the desperately ill.
Lib Dem health spokesman, Norman Lamb MP, also attacked the government on the appalling standards of care and chaotic systems at Stafford described by the Healthcare Commission as intolerable. And with the revelations by the NHS watchdog for England that, at Birmingham Children's Hospital, seriously ill boys and girls received substandard care at a children's hospital where a lack of beds, equipment and properly trained staff put patients at risk, Norman Lamb expressed serious concerns that the hospital trust did not respond quickly to safety issues.
Along with local residents who have been campaigning in the wake of these dreadful failures, the Liberal Democrats are calling for a full independent public inquiry into 'top down bullying' of clinical staff by managers obsessed with complying with artificial targets at the expense of medical care.