Waiting for Francis is like waiting for Godot

Thu, 20 September 2012

National Voices, a coalition of more than 140 health and social care charities, has expressed concern about the further delay in the Francis report and is planning to publish its own version of lessons to learn. The inquiry, chaired by Robert Francis QC, is considering what the NHS must learn from the failings at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust and follows an earlier report, also chaired by Robert Francis.
The report was due to be sent to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt on October 15.  However, Francis announced on Wednesday (September 19) that his final report would now be delayed until early January 2013. This is the second delay in completing the report.
Jeremy Taylor, chief executive of National Voices, said: “Waiting for Francis has become like waiting for Godot.  A new NHS structure comes into place in April which needs to learn from the lessons of Mid-Staffs.  Yet the official inquiry keeps getting delayed. That can’t be right and it increases the chances of avoidable harm for patients”.   
The first Francis report on Mid-Staffs showed that despite many avoidable deaths, patients’, families’ and staff’s concerns about care quality in the hospital went unheeded; and vital data were disregarded. At that point Robert Francis said “It is as vital that patients and their relatives are listened to – for in many ways they are the experts on the patient and his or her needs ? as it is for hospital staff to provide information.”

Jeremy Taylor said “More than three years after the original failures came to light, all the factors that Robert Francis identified are still prevalent in the NHS. At the heart of the problem is the need for NHS to get much better at listening and responding to concerns.”

“Although the report has been delayed there should be no delay in making the changes that are needed across the NHS to ensure patients really are listened to.  We will be publishing our own report on 15 October setting out National Voices’ recommendations.”

National Voices will chair a series of debates on safety at the autumn party conferences. Panelists include Andy Burnham, Baroness Jolly and representatives from the General Medical Council, the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Surgeons. All are welcome to join. Please note party conference passes are needed to attend:

•    Liberal Democrats, Mon 24 September, 6.15-7.30pm with Baroness Jolly
     Sandringham Room, Hilton Hotel, Brighton

•    Labour,  Mon 1 October, 12.30-2pm with Andy Burnham
     Midland Hotel, Manchester

•    Conservatives, Mon 8 October, 12.30-2pm, with Jeremy Hunt TBC
     ICC, Hall 8B, Birmingham

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For National Voices media enquiries please contact: Jules Acton on 020 3176 0737 / 0738 jules.acton@nationalvoices.org.uk

About National Voices
National Voices believes in people shaping health and social care. It is a coalition of more than 140 health and social care charities and speaks on behalf of its members and of the millions of patients, carers and social services users that they represent. It works to ensure that patient voices are heard and that they influence decisions at national level. National Voices' website.