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Government responds to Francis report

The Government on Tuesday said that it is launching plans to ensure that patients are always put first and people are treated with respect, as part of its response to the Francis report.

The initial response, ‘Patients First and Foremost’, sets out a collective commitment and plan of action for the whole health and care system and everyone who works in it.

Actions include:

  • new Ofsted-style ratings for hospitals and care homes overseen by an Independent Chief Inspector of Hospitals and Chief Inspector of Social Care
  • a statutory duty of candour for organisations which provide care and are registered with the Care Quality Commission
  • a review by the NHS Confederation on how to reduce the bureaucratic burden on frontline staff and NHS providers by a third
  • a pilot programme which will see nurses working for up to a year as a healthcare assistant as a prerequisite for receiving funding for their degree
  • nurses’ skills being revalidated, as doctors’ are now, and healthcare support workers and adult social care workers having a code of conduct and minimum training standards

The response is accompanied by a statement of common purpose that links key organisations across the health and care system. It renews and reaffirms the commitment to the values of the NHS, as set out in the NHS Constitution, and includes pledges to work together for patients, always treat patients and their families with compassion, dignity and respect, to listen to patients and to act on feedback.

Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt said: “The events at Stafford Hospital were a betrayal of the worst kind. A betrayal of the patients, of the families, and of the vast majority of NHS staff who do everything in their power to give their patients the high quality, compassionate care they deserve.

“The health and care system must change. We cannot merely tinker around the edges – we need a radical overhaul with high quality care and compassion at its heart. Today I am setting out an initial response to Robert Francis’ recommendations. But this is just the start of a fundamental change to the system.

“I can pledge that every patient will be treated in a hospital judged on the quality of its care and the experience of its patients. They will be cared for in a place with a culture of zero harm, by highly trained staff with the right values and skills. And if something should go wrong, then those mistakes will be admitted, the patient told about them and steps taken to rectify them with proper accountability.

“I and the chairs of key organisations involved in care have pledged to do this and make our health and care system the best and safest in the world.”

The government has also published a revised NHS Constitution following a recentpublic consultation and it is likely there will be a further consultation later in the year on further changes to the constitution, with the aim of incorporating further recommendations made by Robert Francis QC in his report of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry.