The report released today by Robert Francis QC is shaming for the NHS. The failure in the systems that were supposed to oversee and regulate our hospitals are laid bare for all to see and it is important that the NHS takes these issues seriously and works together to make sure we make the changes needed.
However, perhaps even more worrying is the focus on the basic lack of care and compassion by individual nurses and doctors and other staff who worked in a poisonous climate in Mid Staffordshire, a culture that has no place in any caring environment and definitely not in our NHS.
Without this culture, which Robert Francis describes as “insidious and negative” there would have been no need for two Francis inquiries and there would have not been the deaths and harm to patients at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust that led us to where we are today.
That is why Health Education England (HEE) will be at the forefront of dealing with the problems of values, culture and behaviours that are at the root of the issues addressed by Robert Francis today.
Professor Ian Cumming, Chief Executive of HEE, said: “The values of the NHS, of public service, of compassion and of care are at the root of why the people of this country love the NHS and also why most people who work in the NHS join it in the first place. It is clear that at Mid Staffordshire something went badly wrong with the culture over many years and the values that should be core to everyone who looks after patients were missing or eroded over time.
“Even though the scale of what happened at Mid Staffordshire makes it stand out, there are still pockets of poor culture, poor behaviour, lack of care and lack of compassion around the rest of the NHS.
“This has to change and change now. If we get the culture right and ensure that the NHS values run through all that our staff do, we will do more to protect patients than all the regulators and systems in the world.
“HEE needs time to read the report in full and consider all of its 290 recommendations, but I also want to be clear about our responsibilities as the new people development service for health and healthcare in England.
In response to the Francis report, HEE will lead a cross-NHS set of programmes to ensure we recruit for values at all levels of the NHS from the consultant and chief executive to nurse, porter and receptionist. We will develop a process for NHS employers to use to test values and behaviours of potential employees. If people can’t demonstrate the right values and behaviours they should not get jobs in our NHS. It is as simple as that.
“My personal belief is that we should recruit for values, train around values and appraise individuals based on expression of values. There should be no place in the NHS for people who don’t subscribe to the core values as set out in the NHS Constitution.
“HEE will be talking to Universities to ensure that every student we directly or indirectly fund to study nursing, medicine, physiotherapy or any other health related course should be interviewed prior to being offered a place and they should also be subject to an assessment of their values and behaviours. If potential students cannot demonstrate the right values and behaviours to work in healthcare, why should tax payers spend tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds paying for the course for that individual?
“We will also be looking at the content of training programmes for all staff – particularly focussing on the large number of support staff – ensuring that in addition to values and behaviours people also have the appropriate levels of skills and training to undertake their roles”.
For more information, contact Helen Jackson on 0121 695 2252.