Monday, 29 October 2012

An apology to Lord Ashcroft.

I would like to make 5 sincere and unequivocal apologies and clarifications about earlier pieces I wrote in relation to Lord Ashcroft. My earlier writings used hyperbole in 2 cases, may have caused a false impression to be received in others 2 cases, and was incorrect on the facts in 1 case.

1. An earlier piece on this website alleged that Lord Ashcroft had a significant stake in the Priory Hospital Group. Whilst this was the case up until March 2011, Lord Ashcroft had divested of his interests from this date. Therefore, I was wrong to link his name to any current Care Quality Commission shortcomings experienced by the Priory Group after that date. For that, I apologise. Lord Ashcroft cannot be responsible for CQC failings at the Priory Group if he had by that stage sold his share.

2. The CQC Inspection of the Priory Group Hospital found that it could only pass them on 2 of the 5 criteria. It found some serious shortcomings with the way adolescent patients were treated at the hospital but I accept that it was a use of hyperbole to call this failings 'horrific'. I was myself genuinely moved by the plight of the patients who were unhappy with the care they received. You can read the Care Quality Commission Report for yourself (here). I took it as a given that people would realise that Lord Ashcroft is not a trained medical doctor and so therefore did not 'literally' provide on-site medical care, but for those who thought that unclear let me apologise.

3. Lord Ashcroft has donated many millions of pounds to the Conservative Party, and he (and his family) has held a financial interest in private healthcare company Medacs for more than 10 years. But in no way are these two facts linked, and I apologise if I created the impression that they were. The two facts in their own right are of public interest, and it is that which I sought to fulfill. I have never said Lord Ashcroft corruptly receives NHS contracts, but for those who got that impression let me also apologise

4. Medacs only passed 3 of 4 of the criteria at the inspection of their service mentioned and whilst this is a serious matter, I accept that I used more colourful adjectives in describing those shortcomings than was needed. For that I apologise. You can read the Care Quality Commission Report for yourself (here).

5. Medacs benefits from the use of agency staff in the NHS, and it is the case that the use of agencies such as Medacs has expanded since 2010. By the Daily Telegraph's estimation, agency spend has gone up by 50%. And whilst it is true that Medacs have financially benefited from this increased use, that is not to say that this has been in any way as a result of Lord Ashcroft's donations.  If I created the impression that Lord Ashcroft's donations led to a policy that more increased use of agency staff as some sort of 'pay off' then I apologise. There is no evidence that that is the case. I think the public are rightly interested in donors who have private healthcare links and that is what I sought to report.  

Yours sincerely,

1 comment:

Phin Pope said...

Maybe even quoting the CQC report for Medacs would actually have given more context:

The provider was not meeting this standard. We judged that this had a minor impact on
people who used the service and action was needed for this essential standard.