Government tightens up on NHS following Stafford scandal

Jeremy Hunt Credit: PA

A statutory duty of candour in the NHS is to be introduced in the wake of the Stafford hospitals scandal in which up to 1,200 people died needlessly between 2005 and 2009. The aim is to make it a criminal offence to cover up wrong doing and poor care.

In response to the Public Inquiry into what went wrong, chaired by Sir Robert Francis QC, the Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt has also announced today that he will also introduce a Chief Inspector of Hospitals and a Chief Inspector of Social Care. Nurses are to spend a year working as health care assistants on the wards before they can qualify as professionals.

The government says it wants a policy of zero harm in the health service where the needs of patients are always paramount.

But under the terms of the duty of candour, organisations will be held to account at board level. The government say to name individuals would add to a culture of fear not eradicate it.

In other measures announced today, there will be an end to 'gagging' clauses in agreements reached with departing staff. It's also planned that failing managers will not be able to be re-employed elesewhere in the service.

The government say today they have produced an intitial response to the Francis Report. The future he says will be constantly reviewed.