Delay in publishing the Francis Report will delay progress

  • Last month, the chairman of the inquiry Robert Francis QC confirmed that the report of the public inquiry into the serious failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust has been delayed until January.

    The report was previously due to be handed in on 15th October, and to postpone it is thought to delay any provements and changes that the health care sector will require from the findings.

    In 2009, a highly critical report by the Healthcare Commission revealed a catalogue of failings at the trust and said appalling standards put patients at risk. Between 400 and 1,200 more people died than would have been expected in a three-year period from 2005 to 2008, the commission said.

    In February 2010, an independent £11m enquiry into events at the trust found it had "routinely neglected patients".

    Mr Francis said:

    The Inquiry has heard a huge amount of evidence from many witnesses and organisations, and has gathered information from a number of seminars and visits.

    In addition, I need to complete a number of formal processes, to ensure any conclusions and recommendations I produce are fair and constructive. Pulling this together into the final report is a complex and sensitive process.

    The report of the full public inquiry into the failings at the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust is due to be published early next year. The inquiry, led by Sir Robert Francis QC, has been looking at the role of commissioning, supervisory and regulatory bodies and why serious problems at the trust were not identified and acted on sooner.

    The report is likely to consider how to including how to embed the patient voice throughout the system, how to engage health care staff generally in the leadership and management of their organisations, the standards set for the safety and quality of care, and who should have the responsibility for setting and enforcing them, the role of foundation trust governors and members, and other local public, patient and staff representatives, the collection, use and sharing of information and data.

    Following the publication of the report in January, there will be many new aspects to consider and changes to the health system in order to protect patients and uphold care.

    It has been described "cruel" to delay the report for this long.

    Prof Edwards, former president and special advisor to the IHM, said:

    The IHM is appalled and frustrated that once again, the long-awaited Francis Report has been delayed, this time until January 2013.

    The NHS in Stafford has let patients and their families down badly. It is a very cruel blow that the agony of victims' loved ones has been further prolonged and justice has once more been adjourned. What happened in Mid Staffordshire was wholly unacceptable and it is absolutely vital that crucial lessons are learnt from this tragedy to ensure that it never, ever happens again.

    The NHS needs fixing and the findings and conclusions of the Francis Report are the first steps to mending it. This means getting to the very core of the problems and facing some uncomfortable truths

    There is a lot of work that needs to take place following the report, so to delay even longer will only postpone the recovery of the trust in the Staffordshire hospital and also in the general standards that the report is designed to improve.





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