Sir Humphrey would be proud – by Peter Bone MP

portrait-bone4.jpgDo you remember the ‘Yes Minister’ episode when Jim Hacker’s department was heavily criticised for having far too many civil servants?

Jim Hacker demanded that his top civil servant, Sir Humphrey, reduced these appalling figures. The very next week Sir Humphrey came up with a plan that reduced the number of civil servants by a third.

To Hacker’s amazement the banner headline in the newspapers the following Sunday claimed “Hacker’s department increases the number of civil servants not decreases them”.

When Hacker demanded an explanation from Sir Humphrey, in answer Sir Humphrey coolly explained we just reclassified civil servants, I thought you wanted the figures reduced not the underlying problem resolved.

Well I have just had a classic example of that in my constituency which would be funny if it was not tragic. Kettering Hospital, the hospital my constituents have to use, has the highest rate of Clostridium difficile in the whole country. You are three times more likely to get C. difficile in Kettering than on the national average. 

Recently I met one of my constituents whose relative had caught C. difficile at Kettering. The relative was ill for a number of months as a result of the infection and eventually died of the effects.

When they went to register the death, instead of putting C. difficile on the death certificate, they put something else. When challenged, the registrar stated “we don’t like to put C. difficile down as it is bad for our figures”.   

Does the ghost of Sir Humphrey live on? Are NHS figures being fiddled in regards to hospital infections rather than the underlying problem being solved? 


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