This site is intended for health professionals only

“Things happen” mentality caused Mid Staffs scandal


22 May 2013

Share this story:

The most senior doctor in the NHS has warned against acceptance of unsafe and poor-quality care in the healthcare system.

The most senior doctor in the NHS has warned against acceptance of unsafe and poor-quality care in the healthcare system.

Investigations into Mid Staffordshire Hospitals had shown that good, caring people found themselves accepting increased risk to patients despite knowing something was wrong in their treatment, Professor Sir Bruce Keogh said. 
The medical director of NHS England said this came from a range of factors, including the belief that “things happen” as well as staff feeling unable to challenge established practices and senior colleagues.
Sir Bruce said: “Acceptance is different from complacency, and can be insidious and dangerous.
“When you know something is not quite right and feel a little uncomfortable and you tell yourself that maybe it’s not so bad after all, you are accepting poor practice. 
Sir Bruce listed some of the reasons for accepting poor practice as a mixture of “emotion, embarrassment, fear of upsetting professional colleagues” and sometimes convenience.
He added: “When that happens, you lose your professional and personal compass, and that’s the danger.
At the Patient Safety Congress at Birmingham’s ICC Sir Bruce called on the NHS to embrace precautionary principles and ensure investigation wherever there was a suspicion of harm being caused. 
Sir Bruce Keogh, who is currently leading an investigation into hospitals with high mortality rates said: “At both the Bristol Royal Infirmary and Mid-Staffordshire Hospitals, arguments about statistics and data continued while more and more patients were being harmed.
“If Marks and Spencer spot a salmonella risk in their chicken sandwiches, they recall them straight away – they don’t wait for someone to become ill. 
“Acceptance of that precautionary principle in the NHS could be our greatest friend, could help negate the need for delayed inquiries into known failings, and could be truly transformational.”

Want news like this straight to your inbox?

Related news


School vaccine programme queue
Target for 12-15-year-olds to receive Covid jab by October half-term
NHS England has set out a target for Covid vaccinations of healthy 12-15-year-olds to start...
Booster vaccination
Winter Covid booster plan to begin from next week
Eligible patients will begin receiving Covid booster vaccines ‘from next week’, the health secretary has...