NHS Employers welcome Government response to Francis Report

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19 / 11 / 2013 Midnight

he NHS Employers organisation welcomes the Government's response to the Francis Inquiry, which shows how the whole system will work together to address the issues raised in Robert Francis' report and supports the many improvements already started.

Employers also recognise the need to redouble efforts to create an open and transparent culture in the NHS so that all staff feel empowered and supported to raise concerns which ensure the highest standards of healthcare provision.

Dean Royles, chief executive of the NHS Employers organisation, said:

"For many months now, hard-working and dedicated NHS staff and managers have worked under the legacy of the poor standards of care exposed at Mid-Staffordshire. It was shocking to many in the NHS. As a result, we have all taken a long, hard look in the mirror to consider what we do, why we do it and how we do it. I hope this is the point that we can all move forward with confidence and commitment to really drive the improvements we all want to see.

“Improvement is not down to just one part of the NHS; commissioners, employers, professional bodies, regulators, national bodies and the Department of Health must work together with patients to share information and intelligence in a timely and responsive way that allows our extremely complex system to deliver candour, openness and transparency.

"This report provides a platform for the entire NHS community to move forward at a pace, building good partnerships, recruiting the right people, determining the right skills mix of staff at a local level, encouraging effective ways of working for the benefit of patients and promoting a safe environment for people to speak out if they have concerns. The last NHS staff survey showed that confidence to report concerns is improving, but we recognise there will always room for further improvement. A statutory 'duty of candour' on organisations and not individuals, will help to promote and encourage the creation of a world beating transparent, open culture."

On the issue of staffing ratios, Dean Royles, said:

"Crude national ratios around the numbers of one particular staff group cannot capture the complex way care is provided on wards and in homes, in clinics and in the community.  In today’s NHS, care is provided by a team that often relies on nurses but includes physiotherapists, dieticians, speech therapists, occupational therapists and others; professionals essential to high quality care. 

"Employers strive to provide the right mix to meet the complex needs of patients. It's therefore welcome to see an approach to staffing based on tools and guides, with the emphasis on transparency and publication, to enable the flexibility needed at a local level to best tailor teams that fit patient needs."

Responding to the news that wilful neglect is to be made a criminal offence in England and Wales, Dean Royles, said:

"It is right we drive out wilful neglect, but we also need to emphasise that great care comes from staff working in a supportive environment where they feel valued and engaged. This rather than fear is what we need to drive improvements.

Building on work it has already started, NHS Employers is working with the Department of Health to introduce three new workstreams over the next year, to enable organisations to support staff to improve and enhance the delivery of compassionate care. They are:
 
  • Improving wellbeing in the workplace
  • Staff engagement
  • Organisational development and culture change
 
Workstream 1 (Improving wellbeing in the workplace) focuses on the training of line managers in supporting staff with mental health issues; emotional well-being for compassionate care so that staff are aware of their emotional health and the impact it may have on their ability to deliver compassionate care.

Workstream 2 (Staff engagement) focuses on line manager engagement capability and training; effective analysis and use of staff data; and working with NHS Boards on an organisational approach to engagement.

Workstream 3 (Organisational development and culture change) focuses on the identification of organisations that have used organisational development (OD) techniques to change their culture and improve compassionate care; the selection of OD pilot organisations to enable the transfer of learning and practice; the development of OD readiness and support tools to be made available to all NHS organisations; the dissemination of resources to the wider NHS; and a national event to showcase the outcomes from the learning and enable wider engagement with the tools and resources.

Dean Royles added:
 
"Employers across the country have not waited until now, but have been acting to deliver compassionate care. Working together, we have been learning lessons and tackling the serious issues raised in the Francis Inquiry, whether that's creating a safe environment for whistleblowers or having the right staff with the right skills in the right place at the right time.

"But a note of caution. We must also ensure that the future financial challenge we face does not conspire against implementing any of the Francis recommendations either. Getting care right all the time is what we all strive for; delivering this within a culture of compassion and diligence is what we must all seek to achieve. It's an enormous ask."

Notes to Editors

For full details about how NHS Employers is supporting NHS Trusts and the schemes being implemented to address issues raised in the Francis Inquiry, please visit our Francis Inquiry section.  

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