Last week’s Robert Francis QC interview in Nursing Times set the cat among the pigeons. His allegation that nursing’s voice had been decidedly absent since he published his report sent shockwaves around the profession.
Controversial it may be, but you do have to take his point.
Nursing has to hold its hands up for playing a part in many - but by no means all - of the care failings at Mid Staffordshire. And yet we’ve seen few nursing directors or chief nurses revealing exactly how they intend to make sure that a Mid Staffs doesn’t happen on their watch.
In the pages of Nursing Times, we’ve been covering Francis report reactions, debates on the themes he raised and offering advice on how to improve practice. But what about the external face of nursing? Who is going out and reassuring their local communities about what is being done to ensure care meets a high standard?
Nationally, things aren’t much better. Even the Royal College of Nursing’s chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter reveals on page 2 that the college could have been clearer about when and what to expect from its response, which is due next month.
There were lots of good recommendations in Francis - key nurses, older people’s nurses and a duty of candour for staff - where is the push to take these suggestions forward?
The chief nursing officer’s call to action through the 6Cs and Compassion in Practice should galvanise the nursing workforce, but we need to hear from nursing leaders how those sentiments will make a difference to the care their patients are receiving.
The RCN has raised numerous concerns about the government’s response to Francis, such as students having to work for a year as a healthcare assistant before training. But there were lots of good recommendations in Francis - key nurses, older people’s nurses and a duty of candour for individuals - where is the push to try and take these suggestions forward?
One area that must change is transparency. Helene Donnelly, a key witness in the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust Public Inquiry because of her whistleblowing experience as an A&E nurse at the trust, arguably helped shape Francis’ view of NHS culture.
She is continuing to do that in her new role as ambassador for cultural change at Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Partnership Trust. This new role, created by her chief executive Stuart Poynor, will encourage staff to raise concerns and challenge poor practice. This is what we need to see more of in the NHS.
We intend to help all staff find their voice and be supported when they do so. Sign up to our Nursing Times Speak Out Safely campaign at nursingtimes.net/sos and make the NHS a safer place.
Jenni Middleton, editor
firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter @nursingtimesed