Response from the Jeremy Vine show concerning vases at Mid Staffs

Dear Mr Sutherland

Reference CAS-2816673-KX001P

Thank you for getting in touch. We’re naturally sorry to learn of your annoyance about a reference to the Mid-Staffs inquiry by Jeremy Vine in his BBC Radio 2 programme broadcast on 16 July 2014. Recognising the strength of your concerns, we immediately reviewed the programme segment in question and discussed your concerns personally and at length with the programme’s Editor.

To clarify the context, Jeremy was introducing an upcoming discussion topic by posing the question to listeners, ‘Do hospital or care home inspections ever work?’. To give context, he went on to mention the Francis Report and its findings as an example of the type of thing to be discussed, describing the Report as having sent shockwaves through the NHS at the time. Jeremy then very briefly mentioned some of the points which had emerged surrounding Mid-Staffs, and he made a reference to patients drinking water from vases.

Having reviewed all matters very carefully in light of your complaint, we acknowledge that we got it wrong here. Through a desire for brevity in this short introductory sequence, it may have appeared to listeners that it was being suggested that the drinking from vases point formed a part of Robert Francis QC’s published findings when, as you rightly say, it did not.

It should have been made clear that the specific point was referenced by Prime Minister David Cameron in his statement to the House of Commons in response to the publication of the Francis Report (, a reference apparently based on a very widely-reported claim by the founder of the Cure the NHS group, Julie Bailey, and one which subsequently formed part of her oral evidence to a House of Lords Select Committee (

Nevertheless, we’re very sorry that we got it wrong here, and we are very grateful indeed that you have brought this matter to our attention thus allowing us to fully investigate and respond, and also to take action. We would like to assure you that the programme’s Editor has taken your point on board and will personally speak to the entire programme team to ensure that very careful thought is given to any future references of this nature to make sure we get things right and achieve absolute clarity.

On a wider point, you’ll understand that it’s not for us to pass any comment on Ms Bailey’s claim that patients were drinking out of flower vases, nor to comment on the fact that you evidently judge her claim to be “a lie and is not backed up by anything”, that you believe “there is no evidence that this happened”, and that in your view “it never happened”. We are only able to focus on what we actually broadcast here and we acknowledge that we got it wrong on this occasion and for this we offer our apologies to you. We didn’t set out to cause any offence or distress or to misrepresent the situation, and we hope you will accept our apology and can agree that we have taken immediate action to prevent recurrence as a direct result of your contact with us.

Thank you again for getting in touch.

Kind Regards

Shona McCullough

BBC Complaints


Judicial Review

Yesterday saw a situation where both of the judicial reviews into the process at Mid Staffs were refused on the grounds of the fragility of existing services at Stafford Hospital. The evidence for this was obtained via a Care Quality Commission inspection which was instigated by the Trust Special Administrators, an unprecedented incident especially when one realises that these are the people who have a statutory right to maintain these services.

You know that when you are in a situation where reason holds no sway and where truth and verisimilitude are of little consequence or value, that politics and power are the prime movers. This situation would not be out of place in some tin-pot third world dictatorship, yet here we reside in the twenty first century United Kingdom.

Shocking indeed

Mark Hackett: Leave our children’s ward alone

There is a petition currently doing the rounds concerned with saving paediatric services at Stafford:

Mark Hackett: Leave our children’s ward alone

It is worded thus:

Halt the proposed reduction in services at Stafford hospital

Why is this important?

Mark Hackett, Chief Executive of University Hospital of North Staffordshire, put humanity before money and stop the proposed reduction in children’s services at Stafford hospital.

Reducing hours at Stafford’s Shugborough Ward could result in tragedy, whether it be a critically ill Stafford baby who simply can’t make the twenty mile journey to Stoke in time or a chronically  asthmatic child from Stoke-on-Trent, who can’t be found his usual bed in his local hospital because it’s already been occupied by a toddler from Stafford.  

Arguments about ‘financial sustainability’ are an insult to children like Aiden who has fought daily since birth to sustain the most precious thing of all…his life.  Seriously disabled Aiden suffers from multiple chronic conditions which see him admitted to Shugborough Ward in Stafford on a regular basis.  If he has an attack and can’t reach a hospital immediately he could die.  Furthermore, children who suffer from conditions like these are too ill and too fragile to be transported long distance on a regular basis.  The Staff on Shugborough Ward have known children like Aiden since birth, they already understand their conditions, their needs, and have built bonds with them, meaning that they do not have to waste crucial minutes which could mean the difference between life and death.              

Mr Hackett, you have said: "There is a trade-off between the access to these services and ensuring high quality.’  Well, for Aiden there can be no trade-off.  He already benefits from high quality services on Shugborough Ward in Stafford and his life depends upon them remaining accessible within five minutes of his home.  Why will you not respect the fact that Aiden’s parents have patient choice?  They choose Stafford, not UHNS in Stoke.  The community of Stafford, the 50,000 who marched on 20th April 2013, well, we choose Stafford hospital too               

One of the more common deadly illnesses that can hit any child at any time is Meningitis.  If Meningitis is suspected in a child then it is always best to seek immediate medical attention, even if it proves to be a false alarm.   However with no local A and E or PAU open overnight and an overstretched ambulance service, which we are continually asked to only use in cases of emergency, it is likely that many Stafford parents, not least those without transport or enough money to afford buses or taxi fares, will postpone seeking medical attention until the following morning, by which time it could be too late.    

Mr Hackett, stop dictating and start listening.

This relates to a meeting attended by the Stafford Paediatric Team and the iracible Mr Hackett:


The “meeting”, and I use that word very loosely, was attended by the following:
Mark Hackett (UHNS)
The Clinical director of UHNS (not sure of name)
Matron of UHNS (ditto of above)
A member (minion) from TSA
And “various” others
Location: Shugborough ward
MH “right you’ve got me here, for what reason ?”
Reply “to discuss what you have been saying with regard to peads at SDGH ” ( a lot of paraphrasing btw)
MH ” if I have my way by January or February, but no later than march there will be no inpatient paediatric bed unit at Stafford”
Reply “But what about the 2 to 3 year period for the transfer of services?”
MH “we are not working to that time frame, there will be no 2 or 3 year period for the transfer if services”
Reply “But what about PAU?”
MH “That will be run by a & e and staffed by a & e doctors”
Reply “but that is not a PAU and you’re talking about closing a paeds inpatients unit during its busiest period of the year”
MH ” you’re not listening to me, who are you bye the way?”