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Review into NHS cover ups

Published on 25/06/14 at 05:03pm
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Ministers have ordered a review into the whistleblowing culture within the NHS as it’s announced that 20% of hospitals have been rated ‘poor’ for reporting incidents.

Sir Robert Francis QC who led the Mid Staffordshire inquiry, and recently joined the health watchdog Quality Care Commission as a non-executive director – will lead the review and examine what more needs to be done to support staff who speak out.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt says: “We have come a long way since Mid Staffordshire, however there are too many cases where NHS staff who have raised concerns about safety have been ignored.”

Sir Robert says the Mid Staffordshire report ‘showed the appalling consequences’ of a ‘closed ranks culture’, and that reporting any wrongdoing needs to be foremost in the mind of any NHS worker with concerns.

The investigation is part of a transparency drive launched by the government to halve ‘avoidable deaths’ to 6,000 over the next three years. The NHS Choices safety website will for the first time allow the public to compare the performance of hundreds of hospitals on key safety indicators, such as safe staffing and infection levels.

In the first set of figures now published the majority of hospitals were rated as ‘good’ or ‘OK’ – but one in five hospitals were marked ‘poor’ for their level of openness and honesty in reporting. Under the ratings, trusts are rewarded for being open about their mistakes and worse if there is deemed to be a suspiciously low level of incidents noted.

Last week the Commonwealth Fund released a study that ranked the UK first in the world for quality of care – including safety – but estimates suggest that medical errors cost the NHS nearly £800 million annually, and are responsible for 12,000 deaths.

Other measures include the launch of a patient safety campaign ‘Sign up to Safety’ – which will financially reward hospitals who implement plans to improve care and transparency on both a national and local level.

Emily Mackenzie

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