Thinking Anglicans

What do Bishops have in common with NHS managers?

Richard Scorer and Martin Sewell have written at Surviving Church: Why Prof Jay must impose an external Safeguarding Regulator on the CofE

This week, the Lucy Letby case has brutally exposed the lack of regulation and accountability of NHS managers (link to Lucy Letby: NHS managers must be held to account, doctor says – BBC News). Whereas clinicians are subject to professional scrutiny and accountability by independent regulators, NHS managers are not, even when (as in the Letby case) they may have prioritised the reputation of a hospital over patient safety.  This is a feature they share with those in leadership and managerial roles in religious organisations. Both NHS managers and Bishops are amongst the dwindling band of professionals still not subject to independent regulation. This urgently needs to change, and as far as religious bodies are concerned, Professor Jay’s taskforce on independent regulation of safeguarding in the Church of England has an opportunity to set this change in motion…

Do read the whole article.

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Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
10 months ago

It has all the Air of a church that wants to have it both ways, to want to have its cake and eat it. To hold onto the Security and privileges attached to being an established Church, yet at the same time put itself above the Law. Jonathan

David Hawkins
David Hawkins
10 months ago

“A dwindling band of professionals still not subject to independent regulation” I don’t agree. The Managers of our top 100 companies awarded themselves an average 33 percent pay rise last year (the editor of the Guardian gave herself 42 percent) while Nurses are expected to take a pay cut in real terms. Not much regulation or accountability there. Same goes for the obscene and unjustified salaries top University Managers award themselves. Britain is increasingly a Top Down culture in which those at the top are over rewarded and unaccountable and those at the bottom struggle to survive. And this is… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  David Hawkins
10 months ago

But it has been pointed out on TA, time and again, that the Prime Minister and the King have no personal role in the appointment of bishops, largely thanks to the initiative of Gordon Brown when PM. Their respective roles are to nominate and approve the candidate produced by the CNC process, and to formally announce the appointment. Regrettably, what you describe is still being put out on internet search engines which simply have not absorbed the ‘new’ procedure (actually, Gordon Brown’s changes date from 2007) and continue to describe the obsolete previous process – 16 years out of date!.

David Hawkins
David Hawkins
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
10 months ago

I disagree. Everything the British State does has a meaning (even men in tights). Symbolism is important. If what you say is true you should ask yourself why the King and Prime Minister continue to be mentioned in every episcopal appointment? If as you say it means nothing why bother? At the very least it sets a Royal and political tone to something that should be a purely religious matter. But actually I think it means much more than that and behind the scenes I believe it results in self censorship and a block on the appointment of a controversial… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  David Hawkins
10 months ago

I don’t know how to respond to this which I find personally a little offensive. My comment is factual. It was necessary to say it in the context of your references to the Prime Minister’s religion and the King’s married status, neither of which has any bearing on the way that C of E bishops are appointed or the appointments are announced.

I didn’t comment on your other views, and still choose not to.

David Hawkins
David Hawkins
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
10 months ago

I have noticed that everyone on this forum tries to be constructive and not to cause offence. I try my very best to do the same. So I’m sorry you were offended but I struggle to understand by what. Kate has made a very valid point below. A regulator cannot undo a Royal appointment. That is yet another reason why bishops should not be a Royal appointment. If a bishop proves to be not fit for office that should be a matter for the church to decide and it should not be necessary to ask the King’s permission and since… Read more »

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  David Hawkins
10 months ago

“should be a matter for the church to decide and it should not be necessary to ask the King’s permission”. So if it is a matter for the church to decide then what role should the supreme governor of the church play in making the decision? To say a matter is for the church to decide, but not the king (who is part of the church), leaves open whether the bishops should have a role. In practice it would be only a very very few members of the church who had any role in the decision.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  David Hawkins
10 months ago

Bishops and archbishops can be deposed from office under the church’s own disciplinary powers: the CDM 2003 (as amended). The same for deans. The CDM is to be replaced by a new Clergy Conduct Measure containing similar and more simplified procedures.

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
10 months ago

I think that Mr Brown unilaterally announced that he, while Prime Minister, personally intended to nominate the first candidate produced by the CNC process. That Mr Brown chose to exercise his prerogative in the way that he did places no obligation on future Prime Ministers to do so. Mr Sunak is perfectly free to ignore Mr Brown’s precedent and to nominate the second person from the CNC process or indeed request further names. Am I mistaken in this?

Mr Brown did not actually introduce a new procedure, did he?

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  T Pott
10 months ago

It was very much more formal than you assume. See paragraphs 57 to 59, 62 and 63 of this government document “The Governance of Britain” and “The Government’s role in ecclesiastical appointments… etc: Appointments in the Church of England”, so it was certainly not a case of Gordon Brown’s ‘acting on whim’.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/228834/7170.pdf

I do not know whether the arrangement has been formalised between the government and the Church, as was contemplated in paragraph 63. Doubtless someone else can answer that question. The convention has certainly been followed in every case since Gordon Brown’s premiership.

Ian
Ian
Reply to  David Hawkins
10 months ago

I like You Tube. As an old codger I can bring up a documentary of Richie Benaud on cricket in the sixties. I can also wollow in some Royal docs. In one,about Diàna, I came across footage of Diana’s brother, ‘Champagne’ Charlie Spencer’s wedding and sure enough beaming benignly at the happy couple was a cope and mitred bishop. I wondered how high up the social order you would have to be in order to book yourself a bishop? ” Show your self gentle…to the poor and needy…” They act like barons, and they mix with real barons in the… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Ian
10 months ago

Some purely factual context – I won’t comment further – you must be referring to the first of the three marriages. The bridegroom was the brother in law of the heir apparent to the Crown, and Prince Harry was one of his bride’s pages. The marriage ceremony took place in a parish church.

Kate
Kate
10 months ago

I was nodding along to this article but by the time I reached the bottom I realised that one implication is that the tradition of royal appointment needs to cease, which in turn probably means the end of bishops in the House of Lords. Something like the GMC and SRA get their ultimate authority from fitness to practice proceedings. People comply with professional standards because if they don’t there is a significant sanction. That will have to apply not just to parish ministry but to the episcopate too. And, since a regulator cannot undo a royal appointment, it stands to… Read more »

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
Reply to  Kate
10 months ago

Kate, these are indeed complex matters, but you will see that our argument does attempt to address this issue by limiting our ambitions to the discrete area of Safeguarding. Already, bishops and all clergy must be DBS certified attend training and are subject to CDM under the Royal authority so what is being proposed is not so very radical. An adverse serious finding by a Regulator should trigger either a resignation or CDM proceedings. There should also be the right to sue for damages in the County Court for Human Rights Breaches in the Safeguarding field and for failure to… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Martin Sewell
10 months ago

I have long thought that many of the C of E’s problems and ills simply would not arise in the context of civil litigation. Interestingly the draft proposed Clergy Conduct Measure does make provision for the possible deposition from office of an archbishop or a bishop – is this something completely new? It has to follow a recommendation of the Vicar-General’s Court to the Upper House of Convocation of the appropriate province. So it remains an internal C of E procedure which, if I understand your proposal correctly, might be triggered by an external independent regulator (doubtless requiring statutory authority),… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Martin Sewell
10 months ago

I disagree. The more steps you place between a regulator and removal of permission to practice, the less effective the regulator becomes. Moreover, if it is convincingly argued that a decision by an independent regulator that a bishop is unfit to practice automatically results in their removal from office, then I think most bishops would vote against it. I don’t disagree with you that a regulator is needed, I just think it is likely to require Parliamentary legislation to achieve one.

NJW
NJW
Reply to  Kate
10 months ago

The Church of England is not the only institution in which there are Crown or Royal appointments. In fields beyond the Church, failure to be able to fulfill such a role (such as a regulator withdrawing approval to practice) automatically results in becoming ineligible for that role, and the appointment effectively lapses (whatever the legal/employment process is to have this take effect).

I don’t see why ecclesiastical appointments should be any different from others in this respect.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  NJW
10 months ago

I don’t think ecclesiastical appointments are different! The practical solution is simply to make, or treat, an independent regulator a person with a proper interest in making a complaint against an archbishop or a bishop who can be deposed from office by the C of E. Also, as pointed out, the proposed CCM (to replace the CDM) contains provision for a Royal free pardon – obviously if that is felt to be appropriate. It seems to me that all constitutional positions are covered and preserved.

Pete Broadbent
Pete Broadbent
10 months ago

The parallels between the failure of the NHS Managers in Chester and the failures of the CofE on Safeguarding are excruciating and obvious. There are bigger existential questions about how we create a more just and equal society (to include the ending of royal prerogative, patronage, Prime Ministerial corruption and monoepiscopacy!) – but they will be the work of several lifetimes. The rich, powerful and privileged do not give up their positions easily and without a fight. As Martin says, we can and must make progress in this one discrete area – and effort and prayer needs to be concentrated… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Pete Broadbent
10 months ago

You make some very pertinent points, and I feel that the grotesque failures of Church safeguarding, and in the NHS (not just Chester, but Alder Hey, Bristol, Stafford, Kent & Sussex, East Kent, etc.) are all part of a wider pattern of deteriorating standards of governance and collective provision. Institutions like the police, civil service, medical and clerical professions are mirrors of wider society, and their reputations have largely collapsed: what does this say about what we have become? https://open.spotify.com/episode/43IvVVNLj7y7FV15ObFrBh (and https://www.palladiummag.com/2023/04/27/britain-is-dead/) for recent commentary about the progressive decay of civil society. As capital has been diverted from productive enterprise… Read more »

Richard Scorer
Richard Scorer
Reply to  Froghole
10 months ago

Whilst I probably largely agree with your political views it also needs to be remembered that in the heyday of the post war settlement child sexual abuse in institutions was rife. There was no golden age when these things were better. Abuse was just better hidden than now. Rose tinted glasses are the blurriest of lenses.

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
10 months ago

It’s worth noting that a good proportion of the managers involved in the Lucy Letby case were registered clinicians. The medical director, whose behaviour appears to be amongst the most egregious, was an orthopaedic surgeon and the nursing director, ditto, was a registered nurse. It suits the narrative to claim it’s about evil not-doctors leading doctors astray, but it’s just not true. Indeed, rather as with head teachers and teachers, you get impression that professionals who end up as senior managers in professional contexts behave worse than people who were not previously professionals, perhaps in order to make it clear… Read more »

Marise Hargreaves
Marise Hargreaves
Reply to  Interested Observer
10 months ago

The higher you go the more remote you become from what is actually going on. You are also more invested in the institution and reputation management. When something does happen that rocks your picture of how wonderful everything is the first move is to shut things down and smooth things out – look like you’ve done something while doing very little except pass the blame to the lower levels – usually those who have raised the issue. Any mechanisms in place to hear it are token so things carry on as before. That’s until the mess really hits the fan… Read more »

Malcolm Dixon
Malcolm Dixon
10 months ago

To the CofE and the NHS must now be added the British Museum. In each case senior managers have seen as their first duty the defence of the reputation of the institution, but in every case their attempts to do so by sweeping aside or ignoring complaints, without any serious attempt to investigate their veracity, have caused far more damage to the institution that they could ever have imagined, as well as much collateral damage.

Is this a characteristic common to all British institutions, I wonder, or is it also apparent in institutions outside these shores?

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