I've learnt my lesson: don't trust them

LESSONS will be learned.

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The cop-out phrase for the British Establishment.

It's what we were assured after the lies and the cover-ups involving WMDs, MPs, bankers, the police, child abuse in church and state, the BBC and Jimmy Savile.

You can expect similar mouth music when the current furore over horsemeat and the NHS is overtaken by the next national scandal.

And, believe me, another will be along soon. Lessons are never learned.

The culpable deny all responsibility ("It wisnae me"). Instead of being sacked the guilty depart the scene of the crime with golden handshakes and fat pensions.

A 31-month public inquiry, costing taxpayers £13m, reveals 1200 patients died needlessly in Stafford Hospital between 2005 and 2009.

Yet in the report's 1782 pages – an eye-popping £7295-a-page – not one manager is named, not one culprit unmasked. It's another whitewash.

The report's author, Robert Francis QC, says it would be, "dangerous to blame a single rogue healthcare professional".

Sorry, what's dangerous is allowing even one rogue professional – be it nurse, doctor, manager, accountant, civil servant or politician – to continue what may constitute criminal negligence.

Mr Francis talks of "zero tolerance" for breaches of fundamental standards of care. Where was his zero tolerance? Why no names?

They were calling Stafford the worst scandal in NHS history. Not for long.

The Care Quality Commission is now voicing concerns about 20% of English hospitals.

Don't for one minute think that NHS Scotland is above all this. It's not.

Most of us know horror stories of sub-standard care.

Society has become more callous, so why be surprised that includes the NHS. Underfunded and understaffed they may be, but that's no excuse for abuse and neglect.

If we can't blame nurses – and their own Royal College says most admit having seen bad care – then should we blame nursing?

Has nursing's traditional accent on care and compassion been ditched in favour of a more detached, academic ethos?

And forget transparency. Gagging clauses in NHS contracts prevent staff raising concerns about patient safety.

And when compensation is paid, as it will deserve to be, the taxpayer will again foot the bill.

In 2010, NHS legal costs and fines were a reputed £15 billion.

What improvements in staffing levels, in patient care, could all that cash have funded?

The NHS, lauded at the Olympics as one of the bastions that made Britain Great, has been undermined for years by the self-interest of successive governments, with their target-driven culture, suffocating bureaucracy, creeping privatisation, and cuts and more cuts.

It's a miracle it functions at all, but for how much longer if lessons go unlearned?

UK banks wallowing in a culture of greed and excess had to be bailed out by the taxpayer to the tune of hundreds of billions.

Bankers made dodgy investments, conned customers and manipulated the Libor rate for personal gain.

But nobody went to jail.

Last week, a Bank of Scotland clerk in Dundee was jailed for five months and 10 days. Gary Ducat embezzled £7000.

A spokesman for BoS said: "We do take any incident of fraud very seriously."

The hypocrisy reeks. You couldn't give these people a red face.

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