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Wednesday 6 February 2013

Stafford Hospital – Francis Reports

The final report by Robert Francis QC into the failings of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust, and more specifically goings-on at Stafford Hospital, has been released at long last. Having looked briefly at the agenda being pursued by parts of the media on this saga last month, I’ve been inwardly digesting the findings – so this is just a brief post before a more detailed look tomorrow.

The short video relaying Francis’ personally delivered summary of the failings in this BBC report should be viewed by anyone not yet up to speed on the affair. There were serious shortcomings in patient care which were inexcusable, and especially in the NHS, an institution in which so many people place their trust and faith. That was just not good enough.

Sadly, we cannot turn back the clock, but what we can do is see that Francis has made a number of eminently sensible recommendations:

1 Regulation of care, which at present involves two bodies, should be merged and come under just one,
2 Senior managers should work to a code of conduct and be subject to disqualification if they prove unfit for the job,
3 Concealing information on poor care to become a criminal offence,
4 Statutory obligation on both doctors and nurses for a “duty of candour”, so they can be honest and open with patients about mistakes,
5 Focus on compassion in the recruitment, training and education of nursing staff, with regular checks on competences.

Francis stressed that, although there needed to be change of culture, there was not a need for further reform. This would require all involved in the NHS in moving the culture unequivocally to one where the patient came first. He summed up what he expected to see from the service in future thus:

We need a patient-centred culture, no tolerance of non-compliance with fundamental standards, openness and transparency, candour to patients, strong cultural leadership, caring compassionate nursing, and useful and accurate information about services”.

I’ll post further on this subject later.

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