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Mid Staffs culprits 'should be struck off', says Hunt

Doctors and nurses responsible for the bad care that led to hundreds of deaths in the Mid Staffordshire NHS scandal should be struck off, the health secretary has said.

Jeremy Hunt described the failure to hold anybody to account so far for events at Stafford Hospital was “one of the most shocking things about this”.

“I think this is a problem, I think accountability is very, very important,” he told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show.

Asked whether the doctors, nurses and managers responsible for the situation should be struck off, he said: “Absolutely. The question I ask as health secretary is why is it we have a system where potentially 1,000 people have lost their lives because of bad care and no-one’s brought to book.”

“But I also don’t want to make the mistake of thinking this was all about bad apples.”

Mr Hunt has also indicated that the police should follow the evidence arising from Robert Francis’s inquiry into the Mid Staffordshire Trust.

The inquiry report described a “disaster” in standards of basic care and medical treatment that could have caused up to 1,200 premature deaths.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg reiterated that the police should look at the evidence to establish where there is “clear culpability”.

He told Sky News’ Murnaghan programme: “My own view has always been that there are parts of poor and criminal behaviour in our society where we are sometimes not tough enough.

“White collar crime, we are not as tough as the Americans in saying if someone has committed a white collar crime and others have had to pick up the pieces - we have seen the anger, quite legitimate public anger about the terrible failings in the banking system - I think quite understandably many people say when are people going to be held to account for this?

“But who is held to account, for what offence, is of course at the end of the day a matter for the police.

“That is why it is quite right that Jeremy Hunt has said that the police should be able to follow the evidence.”

He continued: “Some of the individuals who were in management responsibilities at the time are no longer in those positions of responsibility and have long moved on. So you need to look at the detail.”

Reporting last week, Mr Francis said there were failings at every level of the NHS and that the culture among healthcare staff must change.

He said: “What we need to avoid is yet another wholesale reorganisation of abolishing organisations and creating new ones.

“This is about how people behave when they go to work and their ability to raise concerns and be honest about what’s going on in their hospitals.”

 

 

 

Readers' comments (91)

  • As a student, I did a bit of whistleblowing when I witnessed abuse of a patient. I got zero support from my training uni, and even less from the RCN.

    I don't have any problems weeding out the bad apples. But the idea that the Minister for Health that created the very conditions which allowed this abuse to flourish walks away scott free is laughable.

    I am sure the Hunt has read the Risk Register regarding the reforms to the health service, yet he steamrollers on to achieve his ideological goal of destroying the NHS. The opportunities for further abuse will be abundant. If so, I sincerely hope the pidgeons come home to roost for Mr Hunt.

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  • tinkerbell | 11-Feb-2013 5:24 pm

    Yes I survived ! I was just attempting to ensure that the Trust managers were aware that patients were being put at risk.

    The rather silly lady who tore up my original incident form attempted to accuse me of subjecting her to "humiliation"! She lodged a grievance against me with HR. I was asked to apologise - I refused and insisted on a full hearing ! I am still waiting! Doubt it will happen now as some 7 months have gone by.

    I see this silly lady occasionally and she attempts to ignore me!

    I have even been known to ask her (nicely) if she has lost any forms in recent times !

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  • Anonymous | 11-Feb-2013 9:32 pm

    I agree totally. And I am disappointed at the vitriol you have received for your view. It is a message that no nurse wants to hear, because the vast majority see themselves as extremely hard-working and dedicated. However, we are accountable as individual practitioners and if we do not act appropriately, then we can easily become complicit in neglect. If nurses think that they are not being listened to by the powers that be, then they need to change how they communicate with management and the government. Obviously, completing incident reports and leaving it at that, is insufficient. Many nurses have already discovered this and take further action. More nurses doing this together would be a lot more helpful than accusations of 'nurse-bashing' and worse being aimed at those who state the irrefutable truth. Yes. Many, many senior persons (and I mean starting at government level and every stage on the way down) need to be held to account, named, sacked without remuneration and exposed to criminal proceedings. However, anyone who does not think that there are nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals who should not face up to the responsibility they have in what went on at Stafford, then at the very least, they are being dishonest about what it means to be a nurse. That isn't nurse-bashing.

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  • Anonymous | 11-Feb-2013 9:32 pm
    and
    mags | 12-Feb-2013 8:18 am

    I concur.

    The NMC, itself unfit for purpose, is currently processing 40-odd referrals with another dozen in the pipeline. Already they have let off Helen Moss, the former Director of Nursing. With Jan Harry, another former Director of Nursing, also awaiting an FtP hearing, there needs to be a much more robust response to those in senior positions. But no nurse whose actions and/or inactions resulted in patients dying from a lack of the most basic of care, should escape justice. The rest of us are sick of suffering the fallout of this neglect and abuse.

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  • "Already they have let off Helen Moss, the former Director of Nursing."

    could their new found efficiency and speeded up process have anything to do with this?

    When one thinks of Mid Staffs and other known cases of malpractice and negligence one wonders what the NMC are really doing to protect patients and the public and what the money from subscriptions and any other income they receive is really being spent on?

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  • "I am not what I think I am and I am not what you think I am; I am what I think that you think I am."

    Charles Horton Cooley
    Sociologist, 1864-1929

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  • Anonymous | 12-Feb-2013 1:59 pm

    Be sure to keeps us posted when you finally decide who you really are. Until then. Keep taking the meds, old bean and keep your chin up.

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  • Tiger Girl

    Anonymous | 12-Feb-2013 1:59 pm

    Cooley was deluded: that is sheer nonsense !

    Mainly, the final part - the first two bits, are probably correct.

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  • To answer one of Tink's questions, the police are the ones who can request a further investigation and possible prosecution. JH made much of his press interviews requesting just that, but I don't know if it will happen. The other suggestions made (about strengthening regulations) unfortunately require primary legislation so need a lot of time to enact. You also mentioned Crown indemnity (which came into place when trusts were created) and some of the Francis recommendations suggest that this changes, I.e. senior management is no longer immune from prosecution.
    Can't come soon enough.
    I took a couple of days off to visit Mid Staffs, and looked at the wall they have, with photos of all the patients who died. I never worked there, but I am so ashamed to be a manager. My heart goes out to the relatives and families, and the staff struggling to work there and do their best.

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  • Tiger Girl | 12-Feb-2013 3:56 pm

    Anonymous | 12-Feb-2013 1:59 pm

    so was Descartes!

    Personally I wouldn't dismiss it as nonsense though as this is obviously how they felt about themselves in the light of the information they had available to them at that time. after all they didn't have access to the neuroscientific knowledge we have now. As more is discovered maybe the perspective will change again and I am sure there must be a very wide range of different perceptions of who people think they are, if they even bother to think about it at all!

    Maybe I will be able to respond better when I have finished reading
    Bruce Hood's book 'The Self Illusion'
    which I found on the bookshop shelves (? paradoxically ?) in the Management section!

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  • The tragic situation in Stafford is the culmination of years of dismantling the NHS. The Conservatives and Labour have followed the neo-liberal agenda of privatizing, centralizing and closing hospital services. This agenda cannot be implemented without creating a layer of overpaid senior health professionals on bonus pay. Paid liers posing as care planners.The strategy implicates senior nursing officers to deliver the program at ward level.Government ministers and senior professionals are at most to blame for Stafford and similar cases in NHS hospitals throughout Britain. If there are criminal convictions over Stafford, then the hierarchy of the NHS should be on trial under the Corporate manslaughter act 2007.

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  • I agree that some staff, at all levels, have failed patients and need to face the consequences. What bothers me is that Hunt is looking to dismiss the staff responsible (that's ok), and what may follow is 'job done' and the real issues won't get addressed to prevent it happening again. I believe Mid-Staffs got found out, but other hospitals are doing just the same, and at the moment getting away with it. Just playing the 'blame game' is not enough.
    HARRY HUTCHINSON | 12-Feb-2013 11:36 pm - here ,here!

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  • I have the impression any legal investigations will take years before the job is ticked off as 'done' and what happens to patients and front line staff in the meantime?

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  • tinkerbell

    The Nobody | 12-Feb-2013 8:04 pm

    thanks for the feedback on who decides whether there will be any prosecutions.

    You made the time and took the effort to go to mid staffs which is more than some top brass did who managed the whole tragedy.

    Without a moral & ethical framework guiding upper management who put budgets before peoples lives these tragedies will continue.

    It seems that those who make these life and death decisions based on making a profit are mostly 'unteachable' and that no lessons are being learned and they have neither the will or the wit or a moral compass to change their perceptions despite these 'man made' tragedies. Their minds are rigid and inflexible and they are unable to ask themselves 'is what we are doing wrong?'. They can only ask 'how much money have we saved?'. It is a mindset and they are brainwashed automatons.

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  • Anonymous | 11-Feb-2013 8:19 pm

    You may be a first year, but thank goodness you have a brain and seem to be using it! I fear you might find Nursing a little aggravating at times, to say the least though( particularly some staff and Management). Every patient you encounter I am sure will be left in better shape for contact with you... but I hear what you were saying.

    I know you think you would have been better off in the pre project 2K system, but it was just slave labour you know. As a student nurse we had very little right to say what we thought then and I frequently got into trouble for asking patients searching questions about how they felt. Nurses came unstuck if they thought too much. Many of my colleagues were forced to leave their training schools for asking questions the Sr's and Matrons didn't like, e.g. why are we doing this, or is this ethical?

    In some ways nothing has changed except those who question and strive to produce better care just get bullied out of the way in the end.

    And that leads me to what I actually wanted to say for this column. The NMC are quite unable to discern a safe nurse from an unsafe one. They spend years prevaricating over it, and come to meaningless decisions frequently. And there is no where for Nurses to report dishonest and dangerous Nurses and Nurse management, because the NMC ignore the reports of Nurses unless you are a manager, in which case they take the word of the manager as a competent judge of these things, even though it may well be the Manager who should be being reported not the Nurse.

    The whole situation sucks in my opinion, I feel sorry for you poor nurses still working in the NHS.

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  • it is typical of the general management system as a whole. it is simply not fit for managing the health care of human beings. there is nowhere to report to when things go wrong except perhaps in industry involving production, quality and sales where financial loss is involved although even in banks whistleblowing was never taken seriously as it should have been. maybe the global crisis would have been far less devastating if they had been!

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  • At the start of a very busy shift recently we were notified that the CQC were visiting the hospital. What was the priority?.... Making sure all the paperwork was up to date. It was basically stop what you are doing ( looking after the patients ) and check all the files.
    Isn't this where nursing has gone wrong? We have so many unnecessary duplicated forms , pathways , care plans to complete that our time looking after the patient is constantly eroded.

    Surely there must be somebody with some sense out there willing to say enough is enough and work on streamlining all documentation.

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  • Thank you Tink, for your kind words. I think I'm having (another?!) mid life crisis. I really cannot see the point in so much of what I do. I am seriously thinking of resigning. Apart from being so shocked that management made something like this happen, all the bl**dy meetings I've been to since the report came out feel like arse covering exercises. A select Woolworths pick and mix of ooh, we'll do that because it's fluffy, but not the other one because it's a bit too hard.
    I did an NVQ a few years ago, so I suppose I could work as an HCA on the bank, but I'm too old now to re train, although I did think seriously about it. I do one shift a month. It grounds me, but I increasingly feel more and more alienated from my colleagues. I will probably continue, because I do try to make a difference. Or I'll get sacked for being gobby, in which case, let me know if you need a community HCA and I'll come and work for you, and do something more useful with my life......

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  • tinkerbell

    The Nobody | 13-Feb-2013 7:42 pm

    i'm only on secondment in the community until March, it was for 6 months, then they will decide whether or not they still need me (depending on the budget and whether they can find some money from somewhere) i've been told. It was a very long winded explanation, none of which i really understood apart from Blah Blah Blah.

    If not then i will be back to the wards where i was before as team leader, but they said they had too many team leaders and i volunteered to go on this secondment, basically as i was the only team leader who could drive and i wanted a rest from the ward. I love working with a team on the wards, it's just my poor old body that rebels now i'm getting older. Me backs going with all the moving and handling we do.

    I thought i wanted to stay in the community but i have so little patient contact as spend most of my time on a laptop completing assessments, HONOS, clustering, risk assessments, core assessments, care planning etc.,etc.,etc.,or at meetings. it's never ending. I miss the time i had with the actual patients on the ward.

    So when my manager told me last week he wasn't sure whether he could get the budget to keep me even though i am doing a 'wonderful' job i felt a bit fed up initially.

    I woke up the following day feeling that i actually want to go back to the wards and get back to hands on care.

    It's been nice to have a break from the wards as i was exhausted and being in the community has given me a chance for regular meals and a more normal life style after 25 years of shift work.

    Perhaps i should just let my manager off the hook and say 'it's OK I want to go back to the wards'. I couldn't bear listening to another one of his long winded explanations about how i might/might not be able to stay depending on how he can adjust/adapt the budget.

    I think it will be a bit of a jaw dropper for him if he tells me i can stay in the community and i then say 'well actually i want to go back on the wards'. I better get this right just in case they decide to keep me.

    As you see, like yourself, i too am I'm a bit confused.






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  • Hee hee! No, don't let your manager off the hook, we don't deserve it. We spend all our time navel gazing, so common sense doesn't get a look in. The only thing I'm slightly interested in is our community provider is merging with the hospital and I'm piloting short term job swaps for nurses like your good self who're knackered and want a change. In a sad nerdy way, I'm also looking forward to organising joint PGDs and training.

    Before Christmas, I did a few shifts in a care home for EMI. OMG. I didn't do much other than wash people and make beds and help them to the loo and get a bit of dinner inside them and not all over them. One chap was shampooing with his spaghetti bolognese. My training consisted of "toilets, kitchen any questions, no, good, I'm off" so I wasn't quite sure what to do. So I started singing along to something on the radio. But at the end of the shift, I could hardly walk back to my car. Which is a blinded up manager's car with blue lights on underneath that I always make sure to park diagonally across the disabled spaces. Tea was whatever I could shove a fork into and stick in the microwave. Conversation that evening was "where's the TV remote?" How do people do this for years?! And nothing terrible happened, no one died, it's a very good home. It's just exhausting.

    My next plan is to get the Director of Nursing to get her uniform out of the mothballs. She keeps promising to but someone stapled her cardigan to her chair and we've all had to fill in incident forms.

    Hmm, memo to self. Do not post after 2 glasses of Baileys.

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