How has the NHS been negotiating the shockwaves sent through the organisation in the wake of the Francis Report?
That was the issue under the spotlight at a special Finegreen seminar held in the Midlands and attended by senior NHS executives confronting challenges outlined by the report – not least the vital importance of improving patient safety.
Giving their take on progress and problems encountered since the report was published just over a year ago were three keynote speakers with valuable insights into the post-Francis NHS - Professor Chris Ham - Chief Executive of the Kings Fund; Dr Judith Smith - Policy Director of the Nuffield Trust and Dr Andrea Gordon - Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals at the Care Quality Commission.
Professor Ham said the NHS needed to learn from best performing healthcare organisations, both in UK and abroad, if it was to respond effectively to the Francis findings.
He added there was no quick fix to changing culture of NHS. Key ingredients for success included organisational stability, a focus on quality and safety and clear improvement goals. Some of these essential ingredients 'are rare in the NHS, ‘he added.
Dr Smith highlighted the Nuffield Trust’s report Tracking The Impact of Francis - which provides a snapshot of how the NHS is reacting to Francis. More than 50 chairs and chief execs of English acute trusts responded to the survey - which also included 49 in depth interviews and reviewing board papers from 37 trusts
Key challenges arising from the study were a need for staff to be able to raise concerns without fear and ensuring correct levels of qualified nurses given financial constraints.
She closed on a note echoing Francis stating, ‘a common culture of caring requires openness, honesty and transparency in place of a culture of fear’.
Dr Gordon outlined the thinking behind the Care Quality Commission’s new approach to inspecting hospitals, mental health, community and ambulance services
Main questions probed by this approach are - are services safe, effective, responsive, caring and well led?
Among initial findings are that 'compassionate care is alive and well in the NHS' - although there was a wide range of quality between and within hospitals. All inspections under the new approach will result in ratings - either outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate.
Commenting on the event, Finegreen Chief Executive, Neil Fineberg, said: “Feedback from people attending the seminar was extremely positive. The general feeling was that it was good to be able to step back from everyday issues and take stock of how the NHS was faring following Francis, and other recent major developments, such as the Rose enquiry and appointment of Simon Steven as new Chief Executive of NHS England.”