Beware: Gordon the Moron is still a Moron and he’s back
Dr Vernon Coleman
Dangerous Gordon Brown, one of the UK’s discredited former Prime Ministers, is back. He has produced a new report full of advice for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.
Brown suggestions include:
• Scotland should be allowed to borrow more money
• A council should be established to bring together regional political leaders. (Regional leaders were an EU suggestion years ago – rejected by the voters.)
• Empowering digital industries
• Getting rid of the House of Lords. And then replacing it with another second chamber called the `Assembly of the Nations and Regions’.
Brown is one of the scariest of our former politicians. Who the devil invited him back into public life I cannot imagine. I cannot think of anything Brown did which made Britain greater. But I can think of a lot of things he did which buggered up British life. (Flogging all Britain’s gold at a rock bottom price was particularly moronic.)
Here is a section from my book `Gordon is a Moron’ in which I explain how Brown’s obsession with `targets’ helped remove humanity from public life and in particular to bugger up the health service.
`How Brown's Performance Target Culture Has Destroyed Public Services
Brown is a believer in performance targets. It is, therefore, his fault that public services have been afflicted by an absurd and dangerous `target culture'.
Naively, and rather stupidly, Brown seems to believe that if you give public servants targets they will work harder and provide a better service. Indeed, like any good soviet dictator, Brown seems to believe that he only had to announce a target for it to become an achievement.
Brown has set spending review targets (known as public service agreements or PSAs) which cover the performance of all the major government departments and which set highly complex and specific criteria for the way in which public servants are assessed. The PSAs cover everything from exam results to crime figures and cancer rates.
What Brown didn't realise (possibly because of a lack of much genuine work experience - he's been an MP since the age of 32) is that when you give public servants targets they will concentrate on satisfying those targets to the exclusion of everything else. Self-preservation takes over, the target becomes the aim and the focus, and the welfare and indeed the existence of the public, the individual, the person, the end user, the patient, the client, the poor taxpayer hoping to get some service for their money, goes out of the window, never to be seen again. The end result is a massive fraud. Public servants are encouraged to cheat the public in order to get promoted and to receive bonus payments.
Performance indicators on a scale that would have impressed Stalin have been forced on councils, schools, hospitals, the police and institutions throughout the nation and Gordon the Moron has helped create a mad bad world in which every public employee is more concerned with meeting `targets' than in satisfying the public's needs.
It was Gordon who created the entirely mad world in which public services can claim that they are providing the public with wonderful service even though everyone with half a brain knows that they are not. It was Gordon's target culture which encouraged administrators in every branch of public service to cheat and to concentrate not on providing a good service but on satisfying Gordon's utterly absurd targets.
Gordon Brown's endless series of targets gave him control over other Government Departments and the way they worked. By controlling the purse strings at the Treasury, and making other departments obey his targets, Gordon interfered with other departments in a way never seen before in Britain.
Brownism meant that a bunch of people who knew nothing about vital services such as health, education and crime fighting were effectively in control of health, education and crime fighting. Incompetent professionals were able to behave ever more incompetently. Unimaginative, uncaring jobsworth bureaucrats who worked by the rule book were able to rise through the ranks and take control. For them Brown targets were a dream come true. Politically correct nurses, policemen and teachers now all had excuses for ignoring the needs of their patients, citizens and pupils. Millions of public servants who were being paid to serve the public now had just one master: Gordon. Instead of pleasing the public all they had to do was meet their artificial targets and success and glory would be theirs. It is to their eternal shame that so many professionals should submit so meekly to such nonsense.
Some of the targets introduced were nothing short of mad. So, for example, the Atomic Energy Authority was told that it must increase its favourable media coverage by 43.9%. Kew Gardens was told that it must receive 30,000 herbarium specimens a year.
Hospitals were told that patients who visited casualty departments had to be seen within four hours. (I confess that I always found this woefully unambitious. Can you imagine Gordon sitting in a casualty department waiting four hours to have one of his kids seen by a nurse? No, nor can I.)
Hospitals got round these woefully unambitious casualty waiting time targets by employing a `hello' nurse. The nurse just says `hello' but doesn't offer any treatment. But she is officially the end of the waiting time.
Struggle into a Brownian casualty department with a leg hanging off and a nurse will totter over and say `hello'. That's it. Hello. You can sit there and bleed to death. No one cares. You've been seen within four hours. It is deceitful and dishonest and so it fits the Government's style like a rubber glove.
In other hospitals the result of Brownian targets is that patients wait for seven hours because they are placed in `medical assessment units' where, although they still haven't been treated, they don't officially count as still waiting.
Before April 2004 GPs provided out of hours patient care, including weekends and bank holidays. But then the Labour Government offered GPs a new contract which entitled them to opt out of providing 24 hour a day 365 days a year cover for their patients. (It was this new contract, which also enabled GPs to dramatically increase their incomes well into six figures. The Government, under Gordon Brown's financial guidance, negotiated a deal which, by 2007, gave GPs an average income of £118,000 - an increase of 63% on what they were earning when they had to work nights and weekends.) The overall result of the change was that the cost of providing out of hours care doubled and the quality of care provided for patients slumped dramatically.
The NHS as financed by Gordon Brown spends £1.5 billion a year on management consultants but cannot afford £2.50 a day for drugs needed by patients with Alzheimer's disease. The drugs which English patients are denied can delay the progress of symptoms such as memory loss and personality changes. (Patients living in Gordon Brown's home country of Scotland get all the drugs they need. Gordon Brown would receive drugs for Alzheimer's Disease if he needed them because he is Scottish.)
The organisation which banned the drugs is called NICE (the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence). NICE was set up by the Labour Government in 1999 to decide which medication and treatments should not be made available to patients in England and Wales.
The elderly are now treated as irrelevant and disposable in the British NHS. I frequently receive mail from readers telling me that they have noticed that as they (or their relatives) reach certain age milestones (seventy is the one most commonly quoted) medical care is withdrawn. Patients who are considered `too old' are quite likely to be denied investigations and treatment. It doesn't matter how fit they are - they will be left to die simply because of their biological age. Age discrimination has been officially authorised by the Government which has effectively institutionalised ageism.
In the modern NHS the most vulnerable patients are the ones who are being abandoned and being denied the most basic care. I have a file of reports detailing instances in which patients have been treated with unbelievable callousness by nurses and administrators. And, indeed, I have witnessed this sort of reprehensible behaviour at first hand. It sounds absurd but I have stood in a British teaching hospital and watched in horror as nurses ignored pleas from patients who needed bedpans or were unable to feed themselves and were forced to lie, hungry, and stare at food which had been cruelly and tantalisingly placed in front of them but which they could not eat without help - help which never came. The number of patients leaving NHS hospitals suffering from malnourishment rose by two thirds in the last half of Gordon Brown's Chancellorship. In 2006 an astonishing 2,265 people left hospital lacking basic nourishment. In 2001 the figure was 1,381. In some areas of Britain nearly half of hospital patients report that they don't get enough help with eating.
And, while patients lay starving, a total of 13 million hospital meals were thrown away untouched. Between 2001 and 2006 hospital food costing £162 million was thrown away - not just because it was inedible (which much of it was) but because patients were too ill to eat it without help and no one was prepared to help feed them.
A recent survey from Help the Aged shows that 144,000 old people never leave their homes. This is sometimes because they are too frightened to go out. It is often because they can't afford to go out. Over a fifth of pensioners now live in poverty.
GPs are now paid according to whether or not they `hit' their targets. So, for example, GPs search over assiduously for hidden ailments and now frequently label patients as having disorders they do not have, and coerce them into taking drugs they do not need, in order to hit their own targets and to earn more money. Today's GPs no longer have a direct responsibility to their patients but, too often, regard their patients as a means to an end - the end being the number of patients they can diagnose as being diabetic, treat with blood pressure lowering drugs or treat with cholesterol lowering drugs. Brown's accursed targets have destroyed what was left of the traditional doctor-patient relationship.
Cleaners at an NHS hospital were told to turn over dirty sheets instead of using fresh ones between patients. The Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield, which recorded 36 cases of MRSA and 327 cases of patients infected with clostridium difficile in less than a year, had asked staff to reuse dirty sheets in order to save money.
In order to meet financial targets an NHS hospital in London removed every third light bulb from its corridors to save money.
Thanks to Gordon Brown, hospitals treat patients with bunions before they treat patients with cancer because bunions are easier and quicker to deal with and so bring down the hospital's overall waiting time. This enables administrators to meet their artificial targets. Despite this chicanery half a million people are still spending more than a year waiting to be treated. One in eight patients now treated in British hospitals has waited more than twelve months.
Here's another trick hospitals have thought up to help meet Gordon's stupid targets. You need an operation. You're on a waiting list. A nurse or a clerk asks you when you're on holiday. Thinking that this is sensible of them you tell them when you're away. And that's when they send you the appointment telling you that you can have your operation. Because you're away you don't reply or turn up and the hospital can deal with someone else. But by sending you an appointment they've dealt with you. Two patients are taken off the waiting list. You go to the bottom of the list and start waiting again. Brilliant.
Thousands of patients with prostate cancer are being given potentially dangerous drugs quite unnecessarily just to meet targets and clear hospital waiting lists.
The best course of action with prostate cancer patients is sometimes to do nothing - to wait and see what happens before deciding on the best course of treatment. (Often no treatment at all is the best treatment.) But Government targets mean that all patients have to be treated within four weeks. And so although some patients are denied the drugs they need other patients are given drugs they don't need. All thanks to Gordon's performance targets.
How many deaths is Gordon Brown responsible for?
I have no idea.
Nor, I suspect, has he.
This extract is taken from Vernon Coleman’s bestselling book `Gordon is a Moron’ which is available from Amazon.
Copyright Vernon Coleman 2007 and December 2022