Congratulations to Paul O’Connor, chief executive of Birmingham Children’s Foundation Trust, for sticking up for his colleagues and defending the reputation of the hospital he manages.
Even more important is the disclosure that he has handed over scores of documents to inspectors investigating serious allegations about failings at the hospital.
While one can admire his loyalty to the institution he runs, the claims made about the Children’s Hospital are extremely serious and what is most important is that the inquiry is given access to every bit of information it needs.
Only once its report is complete will it be clear whether the allegations made by staff at a neighbouring hospital trust are true.
If they are, then there must be no delay in taking whatever action is necessary to ensure standards and management at the Children’s Hospital improves.
The importance of the Children’s Hospital stretches beyond the city, and even the West Midlands region. As Mr O’Connor points out, it is one of the country’s leading centres for paediatric medical care. Parents across the country have a stake in ensuring it’s facilities and staff are up to scratch.
Claims that the Children’s Hospital is a “Third World” institution, in which theatre staff have inadequate training and poor management puts patients at risk, will cause enormous concern among the families of patients.
Of course, hospital managers deny the claims, although they also point out that they are investing in new facilities.
This is a tacit admission that some existing facilities may be inadequate, although it is not necessarily the fault of the trust itself if it has not had the funding needed to build new wards before now.
This is why the inquiry by the Healthcare Commission is so important. It must be thorough and there must be no holding back from exposing any problems which do exist.
Something strange has happened when staff at one hospital trust feel a need to criticise colleagues at another in this way.
Surely, whether the complaints are valid or not, it should have been possible to resolve the issue without the war of words which has developed?
In some ways it may be a good thing that the concerns have come out into the open but it does suggest a failure of communication or, at least, a lack of trust if surgeons at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital were unable to express their views - and receive assurances that action was being taken - in private.