Patient groups lobby for NHS “duty of candour”
After shocking revelations of misconduct and negligence at Stafford Hospital, inquiry chairman Robert Francis QC has called for major changes – he has created 290 recommendations which are designed to ensure patients will never again have to endure this kind of mistreatment.
A large amount of unnecessary deaths were caused at the hospital. Other patients have reported the terrible degradation and humiliation they suffered due to a lack of sympathy or compassion from hospital staff.
The “duty of candour” element of the recommendations is designed to enforce a policy of honesty onto the NHS. All healthcare officials will be obligated to own up to any errors they have made. Total honesty with patients about their care at all times will be essential. This extends to being truthful with the families of the victims and those responsible for mistakes being punished accordingly: if any kind of reparations can be made, then they will be.
The inquiry chairman said: “The deliberate obstruction of this duty should be made a criminal offence.” There will be punishments in place for those who attempt to cover up a mistake or misconstrue the truth.
Robert Francis QC made a statement in which he professed the importance of a “patient-centred culture” in which their voices were heard. He said “openness and transparency, candour to patients, strong cultural leadership, caring compassionate nursing and useful and accurate information about services” were needed in the NHS.
His inquiry into the events that occurred at the hospital uncovered the dire need for a change within the whole health service. The inquiry is being taken very seriously by David Cameron, who has vocalised deep regret for what the patients at the hospital suffered and is “truly sorry”.
David Cameron and Robert Francis will be influential in bringing about the changes that need to be made in order for the misdemeanours of Stafford Hospital to never be duplicated. This will be welcome news to patient and charity groups that have been also been campaigning to bring about this change and put more emphasis on the care of patients. The “duty of candour” will be at the forefront of this change.