Department of Health figures show that the number of reported patient safety incidents in the English NHS that resulted in death or severe harm rose by a quarter to 10,102 last year. That’s equivalent to a jumbo jet-load every fortnight. A former mandarin recently told me that in the nuclear industry the error rate is 1 in 100,000 and in air transport 1 in 10,000. In healthcare it is 1 in 10. How we can tolerate such standards?

The new Health Secretary must push to open up NHS data on clinical outcomes says Nick Seddon, deputy director of Reform, the independent think-tank

We are so used to assuming that the private life of a public figure must be revelatory — that hidden away is the real truth, which must either shatter or explain the carefully crafted official version. Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan took his 78-year-old mother Betty on the stump to “prove” that his planned Medicare reforms will not hurt elderly Americans. But if having a mother were all it took to provide humanely for the care of the elderly, any politician could do it. In Britain, meanwhile, the most accurate pre-election guide to the future of the NHS turned out not to have been buried deep in David Cameron’s psyche but right out there in public all along — in the boring old election manifesto nobody actually read.

It’s a myth that personal stories tell us the ‘truth’ about public figures, says Gaby Hinsliff

Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s running mate, attacked the NHS this week for “distorting democracy”. Ryan’s argument was that “free healthcare” creates pressure for ever more public spending from patients who overuse it. That is undeniable, but the last thing we need, especially in our state of post-Olympic euphoria, is to be lectured by Americans about healthcare. Surely a free universal service is the ultimate expression of the democratic ideal? The answer is not to leave the poor bleeding at a door marked “private insurance”. It is to inject more democracy into the NHS by running it for patients rather than “stakeholders”.

Camilla Cavendish visits the first NHS hospital to be run by a private company - and she’s impressed

Julian Assange | Doctors’ strike | Tony Nicklinson | tax avoidance

Assange’s escapades

Vaughan Smith posted £20,000 bail for Julian Assange before he scarpered into the Ecuadorian embassy yesterday. But Smith says he’ll still support the WikiLeaks founder even if he loses the money

The Times is less impressed: Assange’s flight is “the latest twist in a legal farce which has grown so wearisome that the temptation exists to tell the Ecuadorian Government that it can keep him”

Strike!

Doctors strike today for the first time in 37 years. It is a “tantrum” of industrial action, says The Times

On the NHS, Paul Nurse, the Nobel Prize-winning scientist, wants patient information opened up for the good of research

Also

Tony Nicklinson, whose right to die battle continues in the High Court, is being condemned to live, says Camilla Cavendish

Yvette Cooper, the Shadow Home Secretary, apologises for Labour’s record on immigration…and chastises the Tories on theirs

With the Egyptian election results due today, Ed Husain sees a storm brewing: he forecasts bloody battles between the Muslim Brotherhood and outcast generals

“Rather than mount a perfunctory legal defence, it would be more impressive to hear beneficiaries of tax avoidance try to make a moral case for their action,” we say as our tax avoidance investigation rumbles on

(The Times, Thursday June 21, 2012)

Times Opinion today | Wednesday June 20, 2012

Scandal:

Legality clashes with morality as David Aaronovitch examines tax avoidance in light of The Times’s outing of Jimmy Carr and Take That

Watergate has brought us a “hysterical atmosphere of constant scandal in which it becomes impossible to discriminate properly between nonsense and wrongdoing,” says Daniel Finkelstein

Also:

Alice Thomson jumps to the defence of GPs as the “specialist generalists” we need to dish out specialist services (they’re still greedy for striking, though)

We need to patch up our churches and keep them fit for use by all in the community, says Nicholas Holtam, a trustee of the National Churches Trust

20-year-old Vicky Fowler Thunders about her difficulty finding work experience, let alone paid work

The Times says…

Aung San Suu Kyi “not only represents a better future for Burma, but testifies to the resilience of the human spirit in extreme adversity”

The Government’s Civil Service reforms don’t resolve the accountability question: ministers don’t have enough say over the appointment of senior civil servants

Great things have been achieved since the first Rio Conference on Sustainable Development

Healthcare is rationed and articulate, demanding patients get the best of it

On Saturday, Matthew Parris accused GPs of being “glorified gatekeepers” who are paid more than airline pilots. Readers (including a good few GPs, we suspect) took to the comment board en masse to chew over his column. Robin Thomas supplied this tip.

Columns - Monday June 18, 2012

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