NHS patient safety pledges

Jeremy Hunt has NHS staff could face a new criminal offence of wilful neglect of patients as one of a series of measures adopted by the Health Secretary from the Francis report into the deaths at Stafford Hospital.

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Hunt has a 'real opportunity' to make the NHS safer

The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will today publish the Government's formal response to the Francis report into the deaths at Stafford Hospital.

Cure the NHS campaigner Julie Bailey, whose mother died at Stafford Hospital in 2007, told Daybreak: "We're looking for five key recommendations that Robert Francis wanted. We believe if [they] are implemented the NHS will be safe for everyone."

"This is a real opportunity for the Secretary of State..we don't want another public inquiry into failings in hospitals."

She went on: "A key recommendation for us is protection for whistleblowers.. working in the NHS and trying to report poor care is really really difficult."

Nursing chief: Evidence should 'determine' staff levels

Chief Nursing Officer Jane Cummings

From next April, each hospital trust will have to publish staffing levels on a ward-by-ward basis, in a bid to prevent another care crisis similar to the one at Stafford Hospital.

Chief Nursing Officer Jane Cummings told ITV Daybreak: "The most important thing to do is to use evidence to determine what the staffing levels should be.

"It's actually quite dangerous to to suggest that there must be a particular minimum and what we really need to do is to look at the needs of the patients on a particular ward or service and that will vary.

"We need to use that evidence and professional judgment of experienced senior nurses to make those decisions locally and then having done that to publish it".

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Minister: NHS to be 'world leader on patient safety'

Norman Lamb said transparency on staffing levels would benefit patients. Credit: PA

Health Minister Norman Lamb said: "We are determined to see the NHS become a world leader in patient safety - with a safety ethos and level of transparency that matches the airline industry.

"The Francis report is already having an effect, with the NHS planning to hire more than 3,700 extra nurses over coming months.

"Experts know that the right number of staff varies by ward and by shift, and should be based on evidence.

"We need transparency on staffing levels, backed up by a strong inspection regime to get better, safer care".

How NHS 'safe staffing' measures will work

The Department of Health said new safe staffing measures would include the following features:

  • All hospitals will publish staffing levels on a ward-by-ward basis together with the percentage of shifts meeting safe staffing guidelines.
  • Boards will review the evidence for their staffing numbers in public at least once every six months.
  • New NHS guidance will set out how local Trusts can work out the right staffing numbers for safe and effective care on their wards and clinical services.
  • Safety information about every hospital in the country will be published monthly on a publicly accessible website
  • Five thousand "patient safety fellows" will be trained by NHS England within five years to be "champions, experts, leaders and motivators in patient safety."

Measures in response to 'appalling' Stafford findings

Robert Francis QC first published his recommendations in February this year. Credit: PA

The Stafford Hospital inquiry, chaired by Robert Francis QC, highlighted the "appalling and unnecessary suffering" of hundreds of people at Stafford Hospital between 2005 and 2009.

Up to 1,200 patients may have died needlessly after they were "routinely neglected" at the hospital.

Many were left lying in their own urine and excrement for days, forced to drink water from vases or given the wrong medication.

Mr Francis made a total of 290 sweeping recommendations for healthcare regulators, providers and the Government.

One of the key suggestions was that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) should set out how many staff are needed on any type of ward at any time.

Hospitals to be forced to publish ward staffing levels

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt pictured in an NHS hospital. Credit: PA

Hospital bosses are to be forced to set safe staffing levels on wards in a bid to prevent another care crisis similar to the one at Stafford Hospital.

From next April, each hospital trust will have to publish staffing levels on a ward-by-ward basis, including the percentage of shifts that meet safe staff levels, the Department of Health (DH) said.

And trust boards will have to publicly examine staffing levels, a spokeswoman said.

The move forms part of the Government's formal response to the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry - also known as the Francis Report.

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