Stafford Hospital scandal to prompt drastic NHS reforms
AN INVESTIGATION into the care provided at the scandal-hit Stafford Hospital could lead to widespread reforms throughout the NHS, it is being claimed.
According to information leaked to the national media over the weekend, a public inquiry looks set to demand sweeping changes to healthcare in Britain – including a threat of closure and fines for hospitals found to have covered up mistakes by doctors and nurses.
The calls have been prompted following a history of failings at Stafford, below.
A previous report by the Healthcare Commission found the hospital was putting patients' lives at risk due to 'appalling standards.'
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The results of the £11 million inquiry of what went wrong at the hospital between January 2005 and March 2009 is due later this month. However, it is understood the final verdict will call for widespread changes across the entire NHS.
These could include:
A greater regulation over management.
A reform of training for nurses and healthcare assistants.
Stronger patient representative bodies.
Threats of closure and fines for any hospital which covers up the mistakes of medics.
It is also claimed that the inquiry has heard that doctors and nurses at Stafford were pressurised into reaching targets and sometimes diverted from critically ill patients.
In 2009 a highly critical Healthcare Commission report revealed a catalogue of failings within Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
It stated that between 400 and 1,200 more people died than would have been expected in a three-year period.
It has also recently emerged that the trust has paid out more than £1 million in compensation to 120 victims of abuse or their families.
A national newspaper has claimed that complaints made against 41 doctors and at least 29 nurses at Stafford were sent to their professional bodies, but none were struck off.
The findings from previous reports, coupled with the predicted results of the two-year inquiry, which has been led by Robert Francis QC, has prompted a response from Government ministers.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "These failings of basic human compassion represent perhaps the most shocking betrayal of NHS founding values in its history."
Julie Bailey, who lost her 86-year-old mother, Bella, as a result of poor care at Stafford, set up the Cure the NHS campaign group.
She said: "After years of inaction – with successive health secretaries failing to grasp the scale of the problems facing the NHS – I feel optimistic that change finally lies ahead."
NHS pressure group leader Ian Syme added: "A huge amount of good work is done in the NHS but there is a tendency towards secrecy and that is dangerous. More scrutiny of the NHS is needed."