Shut Understaffed NHS Wards and Introduce Duty of Candour Say Lawyer who Revealed Mid Staffordshire Scandal

Shut Understaffed NHS Wards and Introduce Duty of Candour Say Lawyer who Revealed Mid Staffordshire Scandal

Robert Francis QC wants the understaffed units and wards of hospitals to be shut down.
Robert Francis QC believes that when there are not enough doctors and nurses on units and wards it is putting patient safety in jeopardy.
In an interview with the Guardian he said that patients on those wards should be sent elsewhere
“If you haven’t got the right number of people to fly an aircraft properly you don’t fly the aircraft. You should not be operating if you haven’t got enough surgeons on duty who are fit to operate [and] you should not be running a ward if you haven’t got enough staff on duty to feed people.
He added:
“What we need is much more honesty than we have at the moment I suspect about when we can’t provide the service. And if we can’t provide the service safely then actually that place should not provide it.”
His public inquiry into the poor care at Stafford hospital from 2005-09 concluded with a report which has been a catalyst to improve quality of care patient safety and the transparency in the NHS.
Francis felt that unless all NHS staff used his proposed “duty of candour” in which they admit when they have witnessed or made mistakes patient safety could be undermined.
Robert also wants the NHS to implement minimum safe staffing levels. This has been rejected by health secretary Jeremy Hunt but has been backed by the Royal College of Nursing the Patients Association and the Labour Party.
Francis’ calls have been supported by Peter Walsh the chief executive of patient safety charity Action against Medical Accidents he told the Guardian:
“Closing unsafe wards has to be the ultimate sanction. You can’t run wards or other medical facilities that are unsafe because they have too few staff to do the job. That is common sense.”
Dr Mike Durkin NHS England’s director of patient safety said that although Francis was right to link patient safety and staffing levels NHS care providers should publish their staffing levels details in their board papers this is currently in practice in hospitals and individual wards.
Dr Durkin also rejected the NHS personnel duty of candour on the grounds that it would be too bureaucratic and may distract staff from patient care.
Dr Johnny Marshall director of policy at the NHS Confederation representatives of hospitals told the Guardian. “Staffing levels should be transparent for all patients to see” but rejected staff quotas claiming they were unnecessary. He also felt that levels of safe staffing should be decided locally not nationally.
He said that a universal duty of candour may be more damaging than good and “Could have unintended consequences creating a culture of blame and fear that could undermine efforts to improve patient safety. The appropriate place to apply such a duty is with healthcare organisations who we rightly expect to be transparent about their failing and the actions they are taking to correct them.”

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