Health Secretary announces the governments response to the Francis Report on the failings of the NHS Mid-Staffordshire Trust, but the shadow secretary says it isn’t enough.
He shows the governments intention to introduce measures that ensure the patients needs are put first, but Labour thinks it falls short of what the Francis Report said was missing and problems will never be fixed whilst they are still understaffed.
Jeremy Hunt said that todays announcement was just the initial response, and is just the start of fundamental changes to the system. He wants to put quality of care at the heart of the NHS overhaul, instead of aiming for targets.
Chairs of key organisations involved in care have pledged to implement the changes to make the NHS the best and safest health and care system in the world.
The new measures announced included Ofsted-style ratings for hospitals and care homes, a statutory duty of candour for organisations which provide care and are registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and a pilot programme where nurses work for up to a year as a healthcare assistant as a pre-requisite to receive funding for their degree.
There will be a new regulatory model under an independent chief inspector of hospitals who will introduce a ratings system for hospitals and individual departments and assess the hospital complaints procedures.
Mr Hunt said:
We cannot merely tinker around the edges – we need a radical overhaul with high quality care and compassion at its heart.
I can pledge that every patient will be treated in a hospital judged on the quality of its care and the experience of its patients.
They will be cared for in a place with a culture of zero harm, by highly trained staff with the right values and skills. And if something should go wrong, then those mistakes will be admitted, the patient told about them and steps taken to rectify them with proper accountability.
Mike Farrar, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said:
The response finds the right balance between external assurance measures and internal changes focused on transforming the NHS culture.
But culture change will not happen overnight. All of us, from the ward to Whitehall, will need to keep a relentless focus on the long term goal – creating an NHS that is safer, more compassionate and fully accountable to the people it serves.
Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said:
Whilst we welcome much of what the Health Secretary has said today, it falls short of the full response to the Francis Report that the Prime Minister promised last month.
Robert Francis made a very clear case for a new system of regulation of healthcare assistants to improve basic standards. Yet this didn’t feature in today’s response. Labour supports moves to rebalance nurse training to include more hands-on experience, but safe staffing is the glaring omission today.
We will never get the right culture on our wards if they are understaffed and over-stretched.