The health and social care charity coalition, National Voices, claims another scandal on the scale of Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust could occur while the health service is forced to wait for the delayed Francis report.  

As readers will know a full public inquiry headed by Sir Robert Francis QC was launched in summer 2010. Its findings are now expected in January 2013. Publication has been delayed twice.

In response to the latest delay, National Voices has produced Not the Francis Report in which it says there is “growing evidence of systematic deficiencies in the way our services are designed and run, and growing concern among patient and professional groups about the quality and sustainability of our health and care systems.”  

It says the NHS is under financial stress, subject to increased demand and that reforms are “distracting time and attention from front-line care.” Waiting for the Francis report, it says, is paralysing improvements to safety and care quality.  

The report recommends:  

  • A change in the law to create a “statutory duty of candour” to overcome a “long-standing and persistent culture of secrecy, cover-up and authoritarian management in the NHS”
  • Implementation of the Dilnot reforms as a necessary first step for ensuring sufficient funding for social care
  • Urgent work to ensure that the safety and quality of hospital care does not vary according to how old the patient is or when they are admitted
  • A concerted drive by NHS organisations to involve and listen to patients and carers  

The NHS Commissioning Board, local health and social care commissioners, and the professionals need to lead on the creation of an integrated health service based around primary care

Sir Robert is due to present his final report to the Secretary of State in January 2013. It is expected that the report will propose far reaching changes at all levels of the system, including to the external organisations that regulate quality, so as to ensure that gross failings of the nature seen in Mid Staffs do not occur again.