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NHS England chief exec shows commitment to culture change


The new head of the NHS in England has already met with a high powered group of patient safety campaigners, including a nurse who whistleblew on poor care at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.

Simon Stevens became chief executive of NHS England on 1 April, taking over from Sir David Nicholson.

Simon Stevens

Simon Stevens

On the second day in his new job, Mr Stevens held a meeting with Robert Francis QC, author of last year’s seminal report on the public inquiry into Mid Staffordshire, and Helene Donnelly, a former accident and emergency nurse at Stafford Hospital who gave evidence to the inquiry.  

Ms Donnelly, now a nurse practitioner at Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Partnership Trust, became the organisation’s ambassador for cultural change in April 2013 and was last month made a senior adviser to the Department of Health on raising staff concerns.

Also present at the meeting with Mr Stevens were Julie Bailey, founder of Cure the NHS campaign group, which highlighted poor standards at Mid Staffordshire and James Titcombe, whose son Joshua died at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust.  

The Care Quality Commission appointed Mr Titcombe as its national advisor on patient safety, culture and quality in October last year.

Helene Donnelly

Helene Donnelly

A spokeswoman for NHS England said she was unable to comment on private meetings. However, Nursing Times understands the discussion centred what needs to happen next in terms of changing the NHS culture into one that encourages transparency and the raising of concerns by staff and patients.

Nursing Times launched the Speak Out Safely campaign in March last year, with the aim of encouraging healthcare providers to develop cultures that actively encourage staff to raise the alarm when they see poor practice and to protect them when they do so.




Readers' comments (2)

  • michael stone

    My instinct is that Robert Francis will have explained things in 'very blunt terms' - judging by his reported comments in the media, he is very straight-talking. Which I approve of.

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  • 1. Improve decision-making reliability.

    2. Stop automatically supporting self-interested NHS Trusts like Mid Staffs particularly where institutional malpractice has been demonstrated.


    3. Focus upon supporting organisations and nurses to improve clinical practice particularly where individual nurses have suffered at the hands of employers having already attempted this.

    4. Cease making glib, apparently self-interested statements about protecting the public and leave this latter task to the police.

    5. Achieve the above within a reasonable budget and time-frame.

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