The First Francis report - Comments from Dr Richard Taylor, co-leader of the NHA party, in advance of the publication of final report
As expected this report castigated the care provided by the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust and in the words of the Inquiry Chairman “concluded that patients were routinely neglected by a Trust that was preoccupied with cost cutting, targets and processes and which lost sight of its fundamental responsibility to provide safe care.”
This gives the coalition government a huge problem. The current Health Act, being enforced across England alone, does not focus primarily on patient safety and quality of care and with the claimed NHS financial deficit, will force Trusts to consider economies which will mean staff cuts, and privatisation of services instead of concentrating on their prime task of providing safe, high quality care for all patients.
As National Health Action works out its detailed policies regarding the NHS, I will propose that we promote the report of the previous Health Select Committee on Patient Safety (HC 151-1, published on 3 July 2009) which covers many of the recommendations made by the first Francis Report including staff training and communication, the inadequacy of the current NHS complaints process and protection of whistle blowers to pick out just a few of the Report’s recommendations.
It is so sad for the NHS that the 2010 general election led to a coalition government that proceeded to institute inappropriate major changes to the NHS when it had been elected on a promise not to carry out a top-down reorganisation of the NHS. Concluding his response to a debate of mine on value for money in the NHS on 2 March 2010 (Hansard, column 244WH), a health minister in the last government stated: “We face a great challenge, but we can overcome it by improving the quality of care, reducing the costs and at the same time delivering within NHS budgets, while recognising that the highest priority of the NHS must always be patient safety and ensuring that we improve the quality of patient care.”
Dr Taylor and the NHA will be providing further comments once the final report is published on the 6th February