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22
Nov

Government responds to Francis Report


Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has unveiled a series of measures to restore public faith in the NHS following the Mid Staffs revelations.

These measures include a legal duty of candour on organisations to be open and honest about mistakes and the introduction of a criminal offence of wilful neglect to hold NHS staff to account.


Hunt says: “The NHS in England needs to undergo a profound transformationo create an open, honest and learning culture.”


The Government has now published a full response to the 290 recommendations made by Robert Francis QC as a result of the public inquiry into the failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, and claims it has accepted all but nine of the recommendations.
Actions on safety and openness include:

 

  • Transparent, monthly reporting of ward-by-ward staffing levels and other safety measures;
  • Quarterly reporting of complaints data and lessons learned by Trusts along with better reporting of safety incidents;
  • A statutory duty of candour on providers, and professional duty of candour on individuals, through changes to professional codes;
  • A new national patient safety programme across England to spread best practice and build safety skills across the country, and 5,000 patient safety fellows will be trained and appointed in 5 years;
  • Trusts to be liable if they have not been open with a patient;
  • A dedicated hospital safety website to be developed for the public;


Other actions include:

  • A new criminal offence for wilful neglect, with a Government intention to legislate so that those responsible for the worst failures in care are held accountable;
  • A new fit and proper person test, to act as a barring scheme for senior managers;
  • Every hospital patient to have the names of a responsible consultant and nurse above their bed;
  • A named accountable clinician for out-of-hospital care for all vulnerable older people;
  • More time to care as all arm’s length bodies and the Department of Health have signed a protocol in order to minimise bureaucratic burdens on Trusts;
  • A new care certificate to ensure that healthcare assistants and social care support workers have the right fundamental training and skills;
  • A new fast-track leadership programme to recruit clinicians and external talent to the top jobs in the NHS in England.


Those recommendations not taken up include the call for sector regulators Monitor and the CQC to be merged.


Unveiling the response, Hunt said the measures were “a blueprint for restoring trust in the NHS, reinforcing professional pride in NHS frontline staff and above all giving confidence to patients.”


He continued: “I want every patient in every hospital to have confidence that they will be given the best and safest care and the way to do that is to be completely open and transparent.”


Progress against the report as a whole will be reported to Parliament on an annual basis to ensure delivery of the recommendations.


Paul Clark, CEO of complaints and feedback specialist Charter UK commented: “It’s very encouraging to see the Government engaging with external investigations into the NHS, and we hope that its support of the Francis inquiry report will eventually lead to a much-needed overhaul of the organisation.

“Even though staffing levels appear to be the main focus of the Government’s response, it needs to be noted that the Government is also quite rightly requesting quarterly reports on how the NHS is handling complaints, and also calling for instructions to be clearly set out in terms of how patients can raise complaints.

“In order to make any real improvements in this area, the NHS will need to have stronger governance, expert input from outside of the NHS, and greater ownership and accountability at Chief Executive level - otherwise nothing will change. At the most basic level, the NHS needs to ensure it has the capability to record any expression of dissatisfaction and to analyse this feedback every single day.

“With this approach, the NHS will be able to gain a holistic view of the patient experience, and therefore be in a much better position to act on any complaints very quickly, regain public trust, and to stop any emerging problems from slipping under the radar.”

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