The NHS will have a legal duty to be honest about mistakes
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Following the Francis Report on the Stafford Hospital scandal, the Department of Health is putting forward a package of measures which will seek to put patients at the heart of the health service.
This will include:
- Consideration will be given to making individual doctors and nurses criminally responsible for covering up errors;
- New rules are to be drawn up with will allow NHS trusts to be put into administration where basic standards are not being met;
- A new role for a chief inspector of hospitals and care homes is to be created and a new ratings system similar to the scheme used in schools is to be introduced;
- Nurse training will be reformed to include a year as a health care assistant so that nurses are aware of the importance of basic care skills such as washing and dressing. A pilot scheme is planned so that future nurses start their training with the year before they commence their nursing degree.
Some of these proposals are quite bold and it will be interesting to see whether they actually come into force and if and when they do, what their effect will be. The Care Quality Commission and Monitor already exist to monitor and investigate standards in hospitals but they have recently been accused of missing terrible shortfalls in the standards of care in a number of hospital trusts. It is not clear that a chief inspector and a ratings system will do much to change the current state of affairs.
Nevertheless, it is promising that the Government has taken on board a number of the Francis recommendations and let us hope that they will have a real impact on the standards of care received by patients in hospitals and care homes.
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