19 Nov 2013

Mid-Staffs report: Francis welcomes government’s response

What is most surprising about today’s government response to the Francis inquiry is just how many of the recommendations ministers have accepted.

Out of 290, they have said they accept 204 in full, 57 in principle and 20 in part.

The main headlines have been well-trailed: criminal offence for wilful neglect and staffing numbers to be published on each ward.

The rejections include no statutory duty of candour for individuals who fail to be open with patients or families when things go wrong. But it will be apply to organisations.

Patient groups are unhappy about this and believe that too many serious incidents will remain hidden.

The government has also rejected calls for regulation of healthcare workers instead saying they should be better trained.

And there is a recommendation that managers who preside over failure should not be allowed to work in the NHS again. There has been much criticism of the revolving door of poor managers although it is not just in the NHS.

When I spoke to Robert Francis QC he said he was pleased at the government response and picked out the openness, transparency and candour as probably the most important in the series of recommendations.

Apart from the neglect of the patients at Mid Staffs, what left that lingering bad taste in his mouth was the failure of the management and board to listen to the patients, the families and the staff.

Even worse, he said, not only did they ignore the concerns, they insisted they were in the premier league of trusts. And that simply wasn’t true.

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