Government publishes ‘blueprint for trustworthy’ NHS

Today Jeremy Hunt outlined the measures that the government are going to take following the Francis Report into the Mid-Staffs scandal at Stafford Hospital. You can read about them here.

Some of them are outlined below:

• Hospitals will have to publish details of whether they have enough nurses on wards. From April, patients will be able to see the numbers on a new national safety website.

• Hospitals will have to produce quarterly reports on how they are handling complaints and clearly set out how patients can raise them.

• There should be a legal duty of candour on organisations to be open and honest about mistakes.

• A criminal offence of wilful neglect to hold staff to account.

• A “fit and proper person’s test” so managers who have failed in past will be barred from taking up posts.

• A care certificate to ensure healthcare assistants and social care workers have the right skills and training.

• Every patient should have the names of a responsible consultant and nurse listed above their bed.

However, some people do not think the government has done enough and that the legal duty of candour should include all errors – at the moment the government has only said it will apply to mistakes that cause death or severe harm although it is going to consider whether to extend that to include moderate harm. Also, the inquiry wanted the duty of candour to apply to individuals not just organisations.

The Francis Inquiry made 290 recommendations in total. The government has claimed it has accepted all but nine of them. However, of the 281 recommendations the government says have been met, one in four have not been accepted in full. For example, the inquiry called for a system of registration for healthcare assistants, but the care certificate being introduced falls short of that.

However, Robert Francis QC said he was happy that the government’s response was a “comprehensive collection of measures”.