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Health secretary hints at Mid Staffs report response

Mr Hunt used a speech yesterday to admit many of the care failures at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust would not have happened had patients been listened to.

Asked how he would make sure patient voice was heard in future, Mr Hunt told delegates he could not say too much about it now but the “the response we make to Francis report will be how we put patient voice at the heart” of the NHS.

Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust public inquiry chair Robert Francis QC’s report is due to be published next week. Mr Francis has previously said he will make recommendations on how to “embed” patient voice in the system.

Mr Hunt’s comments, at a National Voices conference in London, suggest the government already has plans to go further than the introduction of the “Friends and Family” test to address this issue.

During the speech, which set out Mr Hunt’s thinking in relation to Francis, he paid tribute to the “leadership” of NHS Commissioning Board and NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson who is expected to be severely criticised in the report.

Admitting his department was “very much preoccupied” with the Francis report, he said what happened at the trust was “fundamentally a question of culture” and cultural problems could not be solved by “top down edicts”.

He said: “If you can’t mandate compassion, you can only unlock it, then we need to be honest with professionals, the brilliant doctors, nurses and healthcare professions that we have a busier service… we therefore need to think about how we stay true to those values in a much busier service.”

Mr Hunt called for a culture of “zero harm”, a concept argued for by the patient group Cure the NHS in its evidence to the inquiry.

He also appeared to be sympathetic towards the argument made by some witnesses to the inquiry that healthcare regulation should not be split between separate quality and economic regulators, as it is through the Care Quality Commission and Monitor.

He said he had been considering “the regulatory complexity that exists with different regulators with different responsibilities”.

However, he added: “I don’t want to have another huge upheaval but I want to look at what we can do to streamline accountability when things go wrong.”

Mr Hunt’s comments were echoed by Sir David who also spoke at the conference.

Sir David said the commissioning board wanted to give patients “more clout” and “legitimacy” at the “top tables in the NHS”.

He described the Friends and Family test as “only the beginning” of real time patient feedback and also revealed he had recently been diagnosed with diabetes and would become a “patient leader” himself.

Do you want to keep up to date with the latest from the Francis Report into the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust? Visit our tailored Francis Report channel with the latest rolling news and analysis

Readers' comments (10)

  • The Francis report will have been available within the D of H for many weeks!

    The managers, mandarins and politicians will have been examining the report line by line with the following objectives -

    1. How to inflict the greatest possible political damage on the Labour Party who were "In Charge" when the full horror of Mid Staffs was exposed and who refused a public enquiry into the mess.

    2. The indentification of suitable "sacrificial lambs" but nobody to senior and preferably individuals belonging to a caring profession!

    3. Identifying those "managers" who will be severly criticised in the report ,ensuring a strategy for their protection.Such strategy will include all the usual options such as promotion for "failure", "voluntary separation" which will involve huge amouts of cash being paid out to miscreants and resignation followed by guaranteed employement as a "management consultant"


    Time will tell !

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  • he paid tribute to someone who is expected to be severely criticised.

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  • jenny, I have to agree with everything you have said, how very true.

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  • you forgot to say that the managers who allowed this to go on will probably receive a massive golden handshake and when the situation 'improves' to bring it up to the standard it always should have been at they may also be financially rewarded for 'turning it around'.

    'patient leader' - an attempt to try and think up another gimmicky, new fandango expression.

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  • Tiger Girl

    Re the previous poster's question:

    'and would become a “patient leader” himself.'

    Is 'Patient Leader' a new one Hunt has just come up with ? I've come across 'Expert Patient' but this one is new to me ?!

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  • michael stone

    Patient Leader seems to be something VOICES is working on:

    http://www.nationalvoices.org.uk/effective-patient-leader-programme

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  • michael stone

    Martin Barrow, Chris Smyth Times Feb 2nd 2013 page 12 (extracts from the piece):

    A repeat of the Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal, which led to the deaths of hundreds of patients, is inevitable, the head of Britain's nurses has warned.
    Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, told The Times that cuts in nursing staff, low morale and pressure to meet financial targets had created an atmosphere of fear, and put patients at greater risk of poor care and neglect. Hospital staff feared they would be victimised for raising the alarm over abuse and mistreatment, undermining efforts to detect failings within the NHS, he said.
    Dr Carter, whose organisation represents 400,000 nurses, midwives and support workers, said: "Will there be another Mid Staffs? Yes, sadly there will be. There are 1.2 million people employed in the NHS and there is a hospital in every town. It would be foolish to say everything in the garden is roses.
    "Mid Staffs cannot be an isolated incident. The fact is, the service is under huge strain. Trusts are not thinking intelligently about how they deliver care and are simply cutting the numbers of frontline staff. Our members have a personal and professional responsibility to raise concerns."



    Dr Carter told The Times: "The vast majority of patients still get good care, but that is no consolation to those who don't. Mid Staffs has got this massive profile now, but there have been many others like it ... Bristol Royal Infirmary, Basildon, Alder Hey. The report into Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells [where hundreds of patients died after an outbreak of the superbug C-difficile] is painful to read. On the wards there were beds that were eight inches apart ... what the hell were the managers doing, but also what was going on with the nursing culture? There was a culture of bullying and intimidation.
    "If the board had spent time walking the wards, talking to patients and staff, just doing their jobs, they may have saved hundreds of lives."

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  • Methinks Huntie and Sir Davey are full of it

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  • David Nicholson MUST be sacked -No doubt he has already got a huge severance and pension arranged!

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  • Mid Staffs needs to carry accountability for actions just like the rest of us. I only hope that the knock-on effect on healthcare will not see knee-jerk reactions from a politician who probably has never studied nursing policy in his life. No National scapegoats please. We had enough of that in the days of Miss Gamp. Give us the time, resources and freedom and nurses will get the job done.

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