7 July 2010

Public "service" means . . .

. . . never having to pay the price of failure. So says Sharon Shoesmith, former Head of Children's Services in Haringey in north London, disgraced and sacked without compensation after refusing to resign (and conducting a self-serving in-house review) following the brutal murder of 18 month-old Peter Connolly, who had previously suffered more than 50 injuries over an eight-month period, during which he was repeatedly seen by members of Shoesmith's department.

In a separate disciplinary action the General Medical Council suspended Jerome Ikweueke and Sabah Al-Zayyat, the GPs who saw the baby fourteeen times before his murder. The latter saw him two days before he died, when he already looked as pictured below.

Shoesmith subsequently sued (amazingly, so far without success) for unfair dismissal and is currently appealing the judgment. Unsurprisingly, she has remained unemployed while having to spend (shock, horror) her own money, saved from her £100,000 a year salary, to pursue her legal actions, adding to her sense of self-righteous grievance. It's all so unfair - how could anyone hold the head of a welfare department responsible for its performance? It's all so private sector.

Oh - wait a minute: she was employed by Crapita, preferred out-sourcing agency for the Welfare State. How does that work? Does one acquire state sector unsackability even though brought in precisely because of abject state sector failure, as demonstrated by the similar fate of Victoria Climbié, also of Haringey, whose child protection case workers were distracted by an internal feud between devotees of Macumba and Voodoo?

In a speech to the Westminster Education Forum, excerpted in the Guardian, this arrogant bitch declared:
I pay tribute to the perseverance and commitment of social workers in the face of some of the most hostile public reaction I think the country has ever seen. And I want to say one important thing about the past: what happened to Peter Connolly in Haringey was devastating and there was never any doubt about how sorry and distressed I was about his brutal murder while I was director of one of the services that was there to protect him. For the world to have been given a different impression by some elements of the media was a callous twist in the story.
 No, you cow - you were not the director of  "one of the services". You were the individual appointed after the Climbié tragedy and highly paid to ensure that such gross professional negligence did not occur again. You failed spectacularly, and I cannot understand how you and other members of your staff were not prosecuted for criminal negligence. Yet there you are, seeking rehabilitation on your own terms. 

And the reason why public reaction to the systemic failures of the welfare state is increasingly hostile is because it is so very, very rare for anybody in the state sector ever to be held accountable for their professional failures.

The biggest injustice of all is that there are not many more such people sacked every year.

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