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Our comment on the Government’s response to the Francis Inquiry

18 November 2013

“Historically, the effect of Public Inquiries has been short lived. The fundamental importance of Robert Francis’ recommendations for patients and families must mean that its impact goes further and lasts longer than those which have come before.

“In the next few years, patients, the public and NHS staff will judge the Government’s response to Francis by whether they see evidence of a fundamental cultural shift. If hospitals are making the quality of care their first priority, if they are listening to patients and their relatives more than previously and if staff feel supported to do the difficult work of delivering compassionate care, then the collective response to the Inquiry can truly be claimed as a success. The litmus test will be that the quality of care of frail older people, who have complex needs, and who are the majority of hospital inpatients, improves.

“Personal interactions, not regulation, is what will make compassion the core of the NHS. We know that what goes on inside hospitals, every hour of every day, is what shapes the quality of interactions with patients. The complexity and sheer volume of regulation and inspection distracts boards and executives and it can’t provide patients or the public with absolute assurance about the reliability, quality and safety of a service.

“Supported, valued staff and leadership which is open, responsive and accountable are essential if the needs and wants of patients are to be heard and the quality of care improved. Within the pressurised environment of the NHS, if leaders are not listening to staff and taking action, then it will become impossible to deliver reliable, consistent, compassionate care.

“We think there’s still much more to do particularly in relation to ensuring NHS organisations have support in place for staff to raise concerns. It is also important that organisations are supported to put the right management skills in place, in particular for ‘hybrid’ managers–clinicians with management responsibility who don’t see themselves as managers and are not taught how to do it.

“We welcome the Government’s support for our work on Schwartz Center Rounds. We are currently supporting 32 organisations to run Rounds, which are a forum for staff to talk about the social and emotional impact of delivering care, and plan to be supporting many other organisations in the future.”

Note to editors

The Point of Care Foundation is an independent charity working to improve patients’ experience of care and increase support for the staff who work with them. It offers practical tools, including Schwartz Center Rounds®, to help improve the culture of health and care organisations. Its aim is to become an expert resource, providing information and evidence of what works to improve patient experience and staff engagement. See for further detail.

Robert Francis, in his Inquiry, says Schwartz Center Rounds are a method for bringing staff together for the benefit of the patient (paragraph 20.129, page 1394 of the third volume).

For further information, members of the media can contact Creina Lilburne on 07941 156 827.