At its Board meeting today, held in public, the NHS Commissioning Board met with Robert Francis to discuss his public inquiry report into Mid Staffordshire and the vital changes that need to be made within the NHS. In his contribution, Robert Francis made clear the need to have enforceable contractual arrangements with providers around clear standards, with effective monitoring. In addition, he called for honest and open conversations with the public about what can be afforded and how, with the Commissioning Board and local clinical commissioning groups being at the forefront of these conversations. To make change happen would require brave leadership that embraces and exemplifies a culture of openness and candour, and is willing to invest effort in listening to and understanding complaints and criticism.
Commissioning Board Chairman, Professor Malcolm Grant, said:
“I am delighted that Robert Francis was able to join us for this very important discussion, and I want to thank him for his contribution. The appalling failings at Mid Staffordshire served as a stark reminder of what happens when the NHS fails to focus on patients. This is why the Commissioning Board has always been clear that our role is to be on the side of patients. We will always focus on their interests in every decision we take.
“We hold these meetings in public and broadcast them live via our website in order to ensure our discussions are fully transparent.”
NHS Commissioning Board Chief Executive, Sir David Nicholson, summarised the Board’s immediate actions in response to the Francis report:
“The themes identified by Robert Francis in his report are absolutely right, and I have asked every NHS organisation to study this report closely and respond positively. The NHS Commissioning Board has already embarked on ambitious changes that address the themes outlined in his report. We are rolling out the Friends and Family Test in April to measure whether patients would recommend a hospital to their loved ones. We are implementing a nursing strategy, led by our Chief Nursing Officer Jane Cummings, to improve the culture of compassionate care in nursing, midwifery and care staff. And we are launching a major review of the NHS approach to safety, led by international expert Don Berwick.
“These are just some of our immediate actions. Delivering high quality care for our patients is the focus of the NHS Commissioning Board. Over the coming weeks and months we will work with the Department of Health and national organisations such as the Care Quality Commission, Monitor, Health Education England and others to ensure that the healthcare system is responding effectively to the Francis report.”