Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Analysis And Comment

Democratic control is essential

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 27 July 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:251

Rapid Response:

Safety first

I would to draw to the attention of the debate on an "independent"
NHS to recent events at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. In 2001, the Chief
Executive and Chairman left after problems meeting waiting list targets.
This year, the Healthcare Commission inquiry into outbreaks of Clostridium
difficile infection concludes in its executive summary: "The achievement
of the Government’s targets was seen as more important than the management
of the clinical risk inherent in the outbreaks of C. difficile" (1).

I personally am unsure of the best system for the NHS. Healthcare
inevitably has a political dimension. I agree with Professor Kennedy's
statement that "Safety cannot ever be allowed to play second fiddle" (1)
but this also inevitably is a political statement.

1. Heathcare Commission 2006: Investigation into outbreaks of
Clostridium difficile at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Buckinghamshire
Hospitals NHS Trust.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

29 July 2006
Dennis P Briley
Consultant Neurologist
Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Aylesbury, Bucks HP21 8AL