Jeremy Hunt outlines plans to restore faith in the NHS

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has revealed the Government's response to the public inquiry into the Stafford Hospital scandal. Photo: Press Association

It was a scandal that shook our faith in just about the only institution in Britain that almost everyone trusted - the NHS.

The neglect and heartlessness uncovered at Mid-Staffordshire rocked our faith in the nation's health service.

Today, the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt provides some kind of closure. He's spelling out, in some detail what he's going to do to implement the recommendations of the Francis report.

There will be a new criminal offence of wilful neglect of patients. NHS workers could go to jail.

This move was trickled out by No 10 last week and grabbed the headlines. But it will be used infrequently - perhaps only a few times a year. And fear of prosecution is a poor motivator.

Nevertheless it is a clear signal to NHS workers that the system will not tolerate outrageous neglect.

Then there will be "scores on the doors". Hospitals will have to publish how many nurses are on duty on wards and how many there should be. Transparency in action. But how exactly will that increase the numbers of nurses on duty?

Perhaps most important is a new legal duty of candour. That will mean doctors and nurses telling patients when mistakes have been made. Again transparency in action.

All very good. But it will only work if it engenders the new culture in the NHS that everyone is talking about. That won't be built in a day or a year.

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