06 February 2013

Following the release of Robert Francis QC’s final report, the Nuffield Trust has urged politicians and senior NHS leaders not to ignore its central implication: namely that within parts of the NHS dignity, care and compassion are routinely absent from the care of patients.

Dr Judith Smith, Nuffield Trust Director of Policy said: “The events at Mid Staffs were catastrophic, with patients and families suffering appalling standards of care that have no place in the health service.

"There is much to welcome in Robert Francis’ forensic report. It deserves to be considered in detail and engaged with as part of the wider efforts to improve the organisation, management, regulation and delivery of patient care.

The Inquiry’s conclusions and recommendations must be considered in detail before we embark on ways to tackle the more systemic problems raised Dr Jennifer Dixon CBE, Chief Executive, Nuffield Trust

"But the Government and others must avoid the temptation to reach for short-term, eye-catching initiatives which risk missing an important opportunity to address the more systemic issues that Robert Francis highlights.

“Fundamentally, we must not ignore the central implication of this report – namely, that within parts of the NHS dignity, care and compassion are routinely absent from the care of patients. The temptation may otherwise be to convince ourselves that the key lessons have already been learnt and improvements made.

"The initial steps to be taken are clear – apologise to the patients and families in Stafford; acknowledge their suffering and the failure of the NHS to heed this; accept that Mid Staffordshire is almost certainly not a one-off, but symptomatic of wider problems that cut across culture, resourcing, and regulation; and make the quality of care, particularly of older people, a core national priority in practice as well as policy."

Nuffield Trust Chief Executive Dr Jennifer Dixon CBE added: “There is much to commend in Robert Francis’ report and it is broadly in the right direction. The Inquiry’s conclusions and recommendations must be considered in detail before we embark on ways to tackle the more systemic problems raised.

"In particular, I would question the wisdom of merging the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Monitor as it would bring further organisational upheaval at a time of huge financial challenge.

"There are more pressing priorities and structural remedies often don't deliver the solutions they set out to. The history of merging already large regulators is mixed at best and we should proceed cautiously.”

The Nuffield Trust will publish further detailed commentary and analysis in the coming days.

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