Being institutionalised means you put the needs of yourself and your family before the rights of your clients and patients
Editorial: From Guardian website -
“Maternity scandal report calls for urgent changes in England's hospitals”
It uncovers a pattern of grim failures at Shrewsbury and Telford hospitals that led to the deaths and harming of mothers and babies from 2000-2019. These included a lethal reluctance to conduct caesarean sections; a tendency to blame mothers for problems; a failure to handle complex cases; a lack of consultant oversight, and a “deeply worrying lack of kindness and compassion”.
The theme of my Comment here is that it was families who fought and fought and fought to expose these abuses. Doctors and nurses did not. The theory behind my Comment is that there is a persistent habit in England of staff becoming institutionalised. Has this happened to you in your country?
In our health, education and social care agencies it is almost impossible to raise concerns about how clients and patients are being treated. Negative comments are inhibited and prohibited. Any concerned employee who has concerns has to become a ‘whistle-blower’ because there is no other way. Is this true in your organisation?
In my experience it is true for public agencies, voluntary agencies and private agencies. It is endlessly depressing that this remains true in England’s major charities partly because they depend on the government for their income (and for chief execs’ very high salaries).
Being a whistle-blower will mean you become a marked woman or man. Your colleagues might shun you. You endanger chances of promotion. You might lose your job and then your home. Your children might go hungry.
This is the prevailing culture in England’s institutions. So you have a choice: Turn a blind eye or blow the whistle. Have you been in this dilemma?
If you turn a blind eye, you have succumbed to institutionalisation.
Being institutionalised means you put the needs of yourself and your family before the rights of your clients and patients. Senior managers, chief execs and politicians like it this way. This is how they keep you quiet. They think they have got you by the balls.
This is the question for now and 2021: Are you institutionalised? The answer is probably ‘yes’ if you are honest with yourself. That is why we have scandal after scandal after scandal. That is why the babies, children and adults in our care are so easily abused – or killed.
(And if you think the UK Ombudsman will help, you need to read ‘What’s the point of the Ombudsman?)
Peter Limbrick, December 2020