With some trepidation, I welcome the arrival of Adam Cairns the latest Chief Executive of the Cardiff and Vale Health Board( Echo 04.05.2012 ). In particular, I welcome the fact that he is a Law graduate, particularly in view of the Health Board's 10+ years history of ignoring government legislation completely. Instead, as we know to our bitter cost, the Welsh government has allowed the NHS to create a mountain of quasi-legislation that has proved to be as useless as udders on a bull to the Public and Patients it purported to serve. To say that his new position is "probably the best job in the NHS" is, I feel, somewhat over-optimistic as the people available to delegate his mission statement "We'll put the patients at the heart of the NHS" are, largley incompetent. From my personal perspective, this mission statement ( in one form or another ) has been one of the greatest lies ever to be uttered by anyone in the Health Board, NHS Wales, or our incredibly short-sighted Welsh Government.
I am reminded by this of the old joke, "What are the three greates lies in history", Naturally I cannot remember the correct answer ( well maybe the 'clean items' ) but if I had to choose the three greatest lies ever told by the Welsh Government and the NHS, another would have to be, "Our new Welsh Assembly will be governed by Labour with complete Openness and Transparency"- Rhodri Morgan's false promise to the peasants. Choosing a third, out of so many cruel, damaging lies is not an easy task but, for now, I will credit Health Minister Leslie Griffiths with the third, which was "The Community Health Councils are the voice of the people." Long, painful experience has proved the CHC's to be sycophantic lap-dags of the Health Board, instead of the watchdogs that we had a right to expect. Other lies include 'The Status Quo is not an option' and that new favourite, 'We will ensure that the health service is 'fit for purpose' ( whatever the blazes that means.)
Mr Cairns - although experienced by his tenure at Shrewsbury and Telford - seems to be quite adept at shooting himself in the foot when it comes to making promises. "This has to be a dialogue with the public and patients" is a beauty, as is "If we work with our clinicians, they have the answer" ( the operative word being 'If'. ) Continuing in similar vein, he explains "These conversations [ with clinicians ], in my experience usually lead to services that are run more smoothly, are better for patients, and cost less. Well, good luck to the old boy even though he has no idea that he will be firmly guided by his superiors and the limitations of his subordinates. Whereas, I am reluctant to add any criticism, I do feel that a better candidate for Board 'Chair' than Ms Battle whose experience was gained whilst working for one of the most useless quangos, Childrens Commissioner for Wales, could have been found at Office Angels. Her statement is as empty and meaningless as any I have heard from someone chosen to Chair an organisation with a £1bn budget. Let's give her the benefit of the doubt as she probably makes an excellent 'cuppa', even though she will probably will be word perfect in every platitude of her longer-serving colleagues.
It's a shame that Mr Cairns is prevented from reading this blog ( blocked by his Board, contrary to Article 10 of the Human Convention of Human Rights ), as it would provide him with the patient's view of his Board's dismal performance. Magpie and I can only hope that he honours his promise to put the patient first, but we will not be surprised if he gets bogged down in the quagmire of badly planned projects and the morass that is the current 'management' of his Universally Inept Health Board, to date. Still, we live in hope - don't we ? R. W.