The Francis Report

27 March 2013
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Below is a response from our President, Dr Fiona Cornish, to the The Francis report, published 6th February 2013


Francis-reportAlthough the Francis Report, published on 6th February on the Mid Staffs Trust, makes uncomfortable reading, it reinforces the essence of what we all entered medicine for, Patient Care. The report shows, only too clearly, the consequences of what happens when the NHS loses sight of patient care in its desperate attempts to balance budgets and achieve targets.

We can now understand the distress of the patients and families whose relatives were subject to such lapses of care. The flurry of correspondence in the newspapers, including an excellent letter to the Times from MWF member, Dr Kim Holt, on the treatment of whistleblowers, has certainly provoked discussion of some very awkward truths. We now have to concentrate on restoring confidence in the NHS and re-establishing patient care at the centre of everything we do, across the whole health service.

We had already chosen the title for our November Meeting before the Francis Report, "Patient and Doctor Safety: Can women change the culture of the NHS?" This now seems more pertinent than ever, and I am sure will generate much lively debate.

Dr Clare Gerada has written an excellent commentary on the Francis Report, highlighting the need for care and kindness in the NHS, which cannot be measured.

This is an extract from her commentary:

"I was encouraged to hear Health Secretary for the NHS in England, Jeremy Hunt acknowledge that many of the important things that matter to patients simply cannot be measured. Giving his first major speech post-Francis to the think-tank Reform, he said he was also keen to reduce bureaucratic burdens on the NHS by a third. Let's hope that this will be a positive way forward and not another round of tick-boxes and micro-management."

Many of the Royal Colleges have issued statements and you might like to read an extract from the RCGP statement, which identifies some of the changes needed.

Firstly, we need to refocus and restore patient care back to its rightful place at the heart of everything we do, across the entire health service from the most junior healthcare assistant to the most senior consultant.

"Clinicians, including GPs and their teams, must be given the ability to do what is most important: listening to patients and caring for them."

"GPs have so far ridden the storm but financial constraints and top-down targets are starting to adversely affect the level of care we can deliver to our patients. We need to reverse this trend by increasing the number of GPs available to provide patient care, and by ensuring they are free to focus their attention on what matters most to patients."

"The second lesson we must take from the Francis report is the need to create an environment in which health professionals right across the NHS can raise concerns on behalf of their patients without fear of recrimination, and where concerns will be properly and thoroughly investigated. In anticipation of the report, the RCGP has produced a UK-wide position statement on raising concerns and whistle blowing in the NHS that we hope will prove invaluable for GPs, hospital staff and patients."

"The NHS was set up 65 years ago to provide fair and effective healthcare and to protect patients. If it is to continue doing this, the Government and all of us working in the NHS must stop underestimating the importance of kindness and compassion, the fundamentals of good patient care that cannot be budgeted for."

I would like to think that the values of the MWF and all its members reflect the conviction that we can and must restore confidence in the NHS.

Fiona Cornish

MWF President
Feb 2013

Medical Women's Federation
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Tavistock Square, London,
Tel: 020 7387 7765

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