Institutions on life support

Saturday 19 October, 12.15pm until 1.15pm, Cinema 2 Institutions in crisis?

From the failures identified by the Francis Report into Mid-Staffs NHS Foundation to the fall-out from the Savile scandal at the BBC, Britain’s institutions seem to be in the grip of perpetual crisis. From Leveson to the Hillsborough and LIBOR inquiries, high-profile stand-offs between Conservative ministers and the civil service and police seems to indicate considerable internal disarray. Little wonder, perhaps, that the whistle-blower is hailed as the last true public servant. Why have Britain’s institutions, once famed for their strength and resilience, now become so vulnerable to criticism? Can anything be done to restore or rebuild trust, or do we require entirely new institutions fit for the challenges of the 21st century? Do the now familiar calls, in the wake of a new controversy, for a public inquiry and tougher independent regulation offer reassurance, or only foster further suspicion of wrong-doing? Can constantly affirming a commitment to transparency lead to damaging public rows rather than effective change?

Jessica Crowe
executive director, Centre for Public Scrutiny

Jon Holbrook
barrister; writer on legal issues; regular contributor to spiked

Ben Lucas
principal partner, RSA2020; chair of public services, RSA

Alastair McLellan
editor, Health Service Journal

Robin Walsh
graduate medical student; co-founder, Sheffield Salon

Produced by
Robin Walsh graduate medical student; co-founder, Sheffield Salon
Recommended readings
Why a culture of fear and blame won't fix the NHS

The best way to improve safety in the health service is to make the staff proud of what they do. Dr Sarah Wollaston.

Dr Sarah Wollaston., Telegraph, 7 August 2013

GPs 'flee sinking ship' as more leave the NHS to practise oversees

Number of family doctors who requested Certificates of Good Standing required for registering to work abroad has risen by more than a third since 2008

Charlie Cooper, Independent, 30 July 2013

Stafford's A&E set for closure as anger grows at 'crucifixion of a good hospital'

Despite furore stoked by parts of the media and fanned by some politicians, there is local anger at decision

Randeep Ramesh, Guardian, 28 July 2013

The transparency delusion

Disillusionment with democracy founded on mistrust of business and political elites has prompted a popular obsession with transparency. But the management of mistrust cannot remedy voters' loss of power and may spell the end for democratic reform.

Ivan Krastev, Eurozine, 2 February 2013

Public inquiries in the dock

The last thing that Britain’s battered, publicly distrusted institutions need is another public inquiry.

Jon Holbrook, spiked, 20 November 2012

Let’s call a halt to the worship of whistleblowers

The increasingly irrational cult of the whistle-blower is bad for politics and bad for journalism. We need some heretics to blow it apart.

Brendan O'Neill, spiked,

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