Bob Deans, Interim Chief Executive
Our Chief Exec speaks about the Francis Report
06 February 2013

Bob Deans, Our interim Chief Executive, speaks about the Francis Report

We know from previous reports about the appalling care many patients received at Stafford Hospital. With the publication of the Francis report we know more about the failures in the NHS system and culture that allowed these events to happen.

This matters to us all because the failures at Stafford Hospital cannot be seen as a one-off ‑ as the report into the abuse of people with learning disabilities at Winterbourne View shows.

What the report says

Robert Francis says that the scandal was primarily caused by the Mid Staffordshire NHSFT board’s failures to listen sufficiently to its patients and staff or to correct the deficiencies brought to its attention. Above all, he says, the trust ‘failed to tackle an insidious negative culture involving a tolerance of poor standards and a disengagement from managerial and leadership responsibilities’.

He also offers a withering verdict on the wider healthcare system which ‘failed in its primary duty to protect patients and maintain confidence in the healthcare system’.

His 290 recommendations for change, include measures that will impact on us all, including:

  • Senior managers should work to a code of conduct and be disqualified if they are not fit to hold such positions.
  • Hiding information about poor care should be a criminal offence as would failing to deliver basic standards that lead to death or serious harm.
  • Doctors and nurses should work to a duty of candour so they are open with patients about mistakes.

What we need to do

It’s our job now to consider the Francis recommendations, and ensure we take any necessary steps to ensure we deliver a safe, compassionate, effective and caring service.

We’re all involved ‑ Francis urges everyone from ‘porters and cleaners to the secretary of state’ to work together to shift the culture. The drive for change must be owned and led by all of us across the trust.

Of course, we’re working hard already to drive up quality, particularly where we know we don’t measure up, for example with regard to pressure damage and falls. And through Living Room to Board Room, we’re working equally hard to transform our leadership systems and style and agree a common set of values – strengthening what we’re calling the SCT way.

We’re making real improvements, and in the process gaining the confidence of our commissioners and partners that when we speak about putting excellent healthcare at the heart of the NHS, we have the skills and commitment to make it happen.

Next Steps

So as we consider our next steps we can be confident we’re heading in the right direction, but not complacent. We have to be resolutely determined to get things right.

We’ll continue this conversation over these next weeks and months, but in the meantime thank you to all our staff and volunteers for your continued hard work on behalf of the communities we serve.

See also:

The letter from NHS chief executive David Nicholson calling on the NHS to 'read the report, reflect upon the findings, discuss and debate the recommendations… and build a momentum for improvement, and an NHS of which we can all be proud. '

Report of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry - Executive summary