More than twelve years as an MSP leaves you pretty hardened.
When you have taken up the cudgels for constituents on a multitude of fronts and locked horns with public and private organisations for more than a decade – dealing with some quite awful and ridiculous stuff at times – you begin to think there is little that could shock you.
But then along comes something as utterly appalling as the Eljamel scandal at NHS Tayside.
Along with other local MSPs who had been engaged with NHS Tayside and the Government over the former head of neurosurgery and his conduct, I was given a preview of the board’s own inquiry into their handling of events leading up to Professor Eljamel’s suspension in 2013, a few days before it was made public.
I don’t mind admitting I was knocked sideways by the findings of the review, conducted by executive medical director Pam Johnston.
Not even the fact the life changing nature of the harm Eljamel had done patients was already known acted as a dampner for the brutal indictment of NHS Tayside’s handling of matters more than a decade ago. Especially when it was revealed their failure to act appropriately after serious concerns were raised with them exposed another 111 people to his practices before he was eventually suspended.
There are multiple questions to be answered. But the most significant ones for me revolve around the chain of events triggered by a complaint against Eljamel in December 2012 which led to a Significant Clinical Event Analysis.
Initially NHS Tayside considered the evidence before them was not worthy even of introducing performance management measures. It took two further complaints before they called in the Royal College of Surgeons. But even then he was placed only under indirect clinical supervision.
Of the 111 patients he was allowed to operate on thereafter, nine have submitted complaints and two raised legal claims.
NHS Tayside had a further chance to act when the interim report from the RCS in October 2013 raised serious concerns. But he was left to carry on. It was only when the final report was handed them two months later that he was suspended.
These revelations have prompted the Scottish Government to order a full public inquiry and set up an independent review of each of the relevant cases, should the individuals wish this.
I had held reservations about a Public Inquiry. Not because one might not be warranted, but because of the length of time such processes take and the fact it won’t get into each individual case.
The victims here will have to wait years for the conclusion of an Inquiry and almost inevitably they will find its drawn out and harrowing nature very difficult.
Those concerns for me remain. But a Public Inquiry had become inevitable because anything short of that would not have carried with it the powers to compel those who were involved a decade and more ago to answer for the actions and decisions they were responsible for then.
And those answers are the very least that the victims of Eljamel deserve.