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RCM welcomes ‘duty of candour’ for midwives

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The Royal College of Midwives has welcomed measures on outlined today in the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust public inquiry report, which it described as a “watershed” moment for the NHS.

RCM chief executive Cathy Warwick described inquiry chair Robert Francis QC’s recommendation to introduce a new duty of candour for NHS staff as “an excellent suggestion”.

She said: “We hear far too often from midwives who are genuinely petrified about raising the alarm bell over poor quality of care. They fear that senior managers will come down on them hard simply for raising concerns.

“We need to transform the culture of the NHS so that midwives and others who need to raise concerns feel happy and secure in doing so. NHS staff must never again be afraid to raise concerns about standards of NHS care. Today must be a watershed for the NHS,” she added.

However, the government has yet to formally decide which, if any, of Mr Francis’s recommendations will be taken forward or introduced.

Professor Warwick also welcomed Mr Francis’s calls for the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to draw up minimum staffing levels and for healthcare assistants to face mandatory regulation.

She said: “For too long the NHS in England has been thousands of midwives short, and we are at the edge of safe care. Minimum safe staffing levels for maternity care, for example, will mean that finally the NHS will be forced to recruit the midwives and other NHS staff needed to provide safe care.

“It is also good to see Francis recommend the regulation of health care assistants, such as maternity support workers,” she added.

“The safety of people being cared for by the NHS must be paramount and regulating all those providing care helps achieve that.”

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