Francis Inquiry highlights need for leadership says county lawyer
A top county health care lawyer says new health organisations will need to earn the trust of the public and promote better leadership following the publication of the Francis Inquiry into the scandal at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
The inquiry was launched after revelations that up to 1,200 people may have died needlessly at Stafford Hospital between 2005 and 2009.
Today inquiry chairman Robert Francis QC made 290 recommendations for healthcare providers, regulators and the Government including the recommendation that if NHS organisations fail to comply with "fundamental standards" they should face closure, and that nurses need better training.
Robert Francis is a QC specialising in the NHS and medical negligence and he has spent years examining the causes of the Staffordshire Hospital scandal and he has looked at a million pages of material in connection with it. He reports a story of appalling and unnecessary suffering where corporate interest were put ahead of those of the patients.
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He concluded that the culture was fundamentally flawed. There must be an improvement in the management and leadership which should lead to early identification of issues. Previously, there has been a total failure to communicate concerns which has led to a culture of the business of the system being put ahead of the wellbeing of the patients.
Robert Francis said: "The NHS is full of dedicated, skilled people. There is much to be proud of, but public trust may be lost unless all who work in the NHS take responsibility to root out poor practice. What has gone wrong at Mid Staffs cannot be solved by sacking "escape goats" or reorganising the NHS again".
The delivery of care must be at the centre of the system going forward and this should equally apply across the NHS and across social care.
Louise Crook, head of healthcare at Rickerbys Solicitors in Cheltenham said following the publication of this report, we can expect a further big debate this year about the regulation of care, leadership responsibilities, the commissioning of care, the cultural of care and the shifting of focus away from profit and onto the service user.
She said: "Unfortunately the publication of this report comes at a time when Primary Care Trusts are being dismantled and the function of commissioning care is being shifted to the GP commissioning boards.
"On 1 April, the Primary Care Trusts will cease to exist and GP Commissioners will have the huge task of making change happen. Let's hope that these new boards are able to establish a better reputation in order to regain public trust and promote effective leadership which will lead to the all important end result of better patient care."
Francis' Five Key Points:-
• Clearly understood fundamental standards. To cause death or harm to a patient by non-compliance should be a criminal offence. This must be policed by the CQC.• Openness, transparency and candour throughout the system. A duty of candour should be imposed and underpinned by statute and the deliberate obstruction of this duty should be a criminal offence.• No one should have hands-on care of a patient without being properly trained and registered. He calls for a new registered status for those working with older patients.• Strong patient-centred healthcare leadership. The public are entitled to see leaders held to account. It should be possible to disqualify those seriously breaching the code of conduct. This will require a registration scheme.• Accurate, useful and relevant information. Patients should also have access to this. Difficulties in achieving this are no excuse for inaction.