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Doctors still in denial about Mid Staffs failings

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Many medical staff at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust are still in denial about the extent of failings in care, according to its chair.

Sir Stephen Moss, a former nurse and trust chief executive, took over as chair in 2009 after the full scale of problems was revealed in the Healthcare Commission’s report.

He told delegates at last week’s Patient Safety Congress in Birmingham that pockets of denial still existed among all staff groups but particularly doctors.

Sir Stephen said “one of the reasons” was because the independent Francis report, published in February 2010, had included explicit criticism of nursing care but “no explicit criticism of any other professional group”.

He also told the conference that, on arrival at Mid Staffs, he had “recognised many of the symptoms” seen in other failing trusts but said that the problems were “systemic and ingrained”.

However, he warned that the “context surrounding the beginning” of serious failings at the trust in 2006 – NHS reorganisation and financial constraint – was “similar” to the wider situation in the NHS today. It was “quite possible” that the current system of regulation would not pick up similar problems, he said.

“I have a very real fear about the future that a number of our smaller trusts, our smaller foundation trusts in particular, seem to build fortresses around themselves,” Sir Stephen said.

The first Francis inquiry into failings at Mid Staffs blamed the trust board’s focus on achieving foundation trust status over patient care.

The current public inquiry is looking into why none of the organisations responsible for performance managing or regulating the trust spotted the problems sooner.

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