When is offal awful?

Undoubtedly board rooms across the land will be full of cathartic conversation, heads shaken in disbelief that a tragedy of this magnitude could be allowed to happen. Some leaders will disembowel themselves with admissions of "we can do better".
The public outcry is stoked by a media aware that the industry has been caught putting profit first, that economic drivers have prevailed over quality and service.
Other nations will wonder what the fuss is about. Their cultural norms are not as ours, they will marvel at our dismay. What to them seems perfectly natural and normal has been "outed" as unacceptable.

Given our context as members of the NHS you will of course recognise that the issue in question is Mid Staffs, but step back and out of the NHS for a moment. The actual topic being described is the horse meet scandal.
In parts of Europe horse meat is an every day product, just as relatives providing basic care is a routine hospital activity. Families eating together at the patients bedside, sharing, supporting, caring is the norm in Eastern Europe just as horse is on the shelf in most french supermarkets.

Now don't get me wrong, there is no excuse for neglect, no apology deep enough for the loss of life and suffering caused by that neglect. I am simply pointing out that expectations, cultural norms and values set the context for any judgement.

In the UK we do not expect to be given horse when we ask for beef, we do not expect to be given neglect when we ask for care.

In both cases businesses under pressure to perform financially have compromised on quality in an effort to reduce costs. At some point in the processes individuals lost contact with the very nature of their key business. Many individuals in Findus, Tescos, Asda were totally unaware of the flawed nature of their product, others who knew of the issue felt it was acceptable and in economic terms sensible to work in such a way.
The real learning emerging from comparing these two very public standards is that legislation is not the answer.
Food standards have some very strict legislation, an army of inspectors, a host of quality metrics and legal powers enough to make your eyes water. There can't be an establishment across the country that hasn't has visits, inspections, ratings and awards, all backed up by inspectors with statutory powers.
Every supermarket and store will have been displaying a rating of their food and hygiene standards, more scores won't fix the NHS.
Our only hope rests in the hearts of every staff member, that they can find the passion to care for people, to do the right thing first time, every time, that they can care for patients as they would wish to be cared for.
The challenge for the boards will be to appease the system and inevitable knee jerk regulation whilst concentrating on the real prize, developing a culture in which great care delivers financial frugality as a by product, and not one in which financial frugality wastes the chance to care.