Grant Woodward: Cameron turns blind eye to biggest scandal of them all

Families read the report into the deaths of 11 babies and one mother at Furness General Hospital.
Families read the report into the deaths of 11 babies and one mother at Furness General Hospital.
Have your say

It’s been brought to my attention that there was a typo in an article I wrote in this paper last year.

The police have been called and there’s a good chance I’m going to jail.

Is the Prime Minister really motivated by a desire for justice, or simply vote-grabbing headlines?

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? But it’s what David Cameron, in his infinite wisdom, is suggesting will happen from now on if people don’t do their jobs properly.

Of course, it depends on what sort of job you do.

Lollipop ladies should be ok. Teachers, social workers, police and council staff, not so much.

In the wake of the appalling child sex abuse cases unearthed in Rotherham and Oxfordshire, the Prime Minister has decided he Needs To Do Something.

Before you can say “shameless electioneering”, he was promising this week to put those who fail to safeguard youngsters in prison for up to five years.

There’s no question that what happened in both South Yorkshire and Oxfordshire was abhorrent and the authorities were culpable.

Terrible abuse of young people went unchallenged because of the shameful inaction of the bodies meant to be looking out for them.

It has been suggested this was because they didn’t know what to do. The easy answer is that they should have involved the police – but the fact is the police didn’t always do the right thing either.

But they were hamstrung too by a hugely damaging culture of political correctness that has seeped into our public institutions.

In a throwback to the Communist paranoia of 1950s America, gangs of Asian men keep slipping under the radar because no one wants to be labelled a racist.

But what we’re talking about here is incompetence, not wilful neglect.

And threatening to jail overworked, understaffed social workers is not going to stop it happening again.

For a start, it will make it less likely that authorities will pass on their concerns more quickly, especially in cases where they suspect they may have already missed some warning signs.

Instead it will promote yet more buck-passing, with people desperate to cover their own backs for fear of a prison term.
 As for recruitment levels for these high-pressure jobs, not likely to go up are they?

There’s no question that those who failed young girls in Rotherham and Oxfordshire should lose their jobs.

This was a clear case of professional negligence and as such their positions are untenable.

But it doesn’t mean that they should be locked up.

Up in Barrow-in-Furness, however, it’s a different story.

There, 11 babies and one mum died as a direct result of appalling care from midwives with out of control egos.

Their pursuit of natural childbirth ‘at any cost’ led to tragedies that could easily have been avoided.

Joshua Titcombe was nine days old when he died from an infection because they wouldn’t give him antibiotics.

Alex Davey-Brown was strangled by his umbilical cord because they refused to put a birth plan in place.

Doctors weren’t called in even the direst emergencies – because the women were at war with them.

And when parents’ persistence finally led to these horrors being investigated, staff destroyed records to cover up their errors.

This isn’t just incompetence – this is evil, pure and simple.

How can David Cameron promise to put social workers behind bars but ignore such actions that clearly warrant jail time?

As Joshua Titcombe’s heartbroken dad James said: “To err is human, to cover up is unforgivable. How can this have happened and yet it’s not criminal?”

Perhaps the PM can pay the Titcombes a visit and answer this question, one that goes to the heart of the issue.

It will tell us if he’s motivated by a desire for justice or simply vote-grabbing headlines.

My money’s on the latter.