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‘Francis report response has ramifications for whole NHS’


20 November 2013

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Though the government's reponse to the Francis report is focused on secondary care it has “ramifications” for the whole NHS, the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) claims. 
According Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the NHS will now put “compassion at its heart” through more openness, greater accountability and a “relentless” focus on safety. 

Though the government's reponse to the Francis report is focused on secondary care it has “ramifications” for the whole NHS, the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) claims. 
According Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the NHS will now put “compassion at its heart” through more openness, greater accountability and a “relentless” focus on safety. 
In the government’s detailed response to Robert Francis QC’s report on the failings at Mid Staffordshire Hospitals, hospital safe staffing levels were laid out. 
Trusts will have to report quarterly on complaints data and lessons learned. 
Experts will be asked to advise the government on how to improve reporting of safety incidents, including whether the statutory duty of candour on organisations should cover incidents of death and severe harm, or death, severe and moderate
Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “We recognise that while these recommendations focus on secondary care, there are clear ramifications for the entire NHS to ensure that we never end up in a situation where the lives of patients and their families are jeopardised by the failures of those in trusted and responsible positions.
"That's why we believe more needs to be done to protect whistleblowers and ensure a ban is effectively enforced on 'gagging clauses' in NHS contracts.” 
Dr Baker has urged the government to pursue a discussion with medical defence organisations, trade unions and Royal Colleges to explore this issue and put a clear plan of action in place.
'Committed commissioners'
She said: "GPs have an important role to play in ensuring that their patients' concerns about standards of care are dealt with swiftly and effectively. However, the capacity of GPs to take time to listen to their patients and act as advocates on their behalf is being compromised by the increasing pressure that general practice is under, with burgeoning workloads and steadily diminishing resources.” 
NHSCC interim president Dr Michael Dixon said: “Our concern is that a new edifice is being constructed that risk making similar mistakes to ones made before. Regulation and regulators cannot guarantee quality; who can are local commissioners who are committed to ensuring and assuring the quality of all providers in their area. Change depends on local leaders and staff who are committed to quality and ensuring that appropriate care is provided the first time around.
“The only way of ensuring patient safety and also developing a system which is built on ever increasing quality is to put power in the hands of local clinicians and communities. The logic of the new system established by the Health and Social Care Act is one where clinical commissioners will only commission from providers who are responsive and deliver high quality services for patients."
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “Today’s measures are a blueprint for restoring trust in the NHS, reinforcing professional pride in NHS frontline staff and above all giving confidence to patients. I want every patient in every hospital to have confidence that they will be given the best and safest care and the way to do that is to be completely open and transparent.”

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