Staff voice fears over quality of care in NHS

Survey by the Kings Fund will alarm ministers coming after the Francis inquiry into the scandal at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust was published last February

Three out of four senior health service staff complain that quality of care is not given sufficient priority in the NHS, according to a survey.

Lack of staff and resources are the biggest barriers to providing high quality care, they say. Two out of five said leadership in the NHS was poor or very poor.

The findings of the survey by the Kings Fund will alarm ministers coming after the Francis inquiry into the scandal at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust was published last February.

 That found a culture that had put “corporate self-interest and cost control ahead of quality and patient safety” which led to appalling care and unnecessary suffering including hundreds of avoidable deaths.

 The survey was conducted among 900 leaders and managers, two thirds of whom were doctors or nurses, in the weeks following publication of the Francis inquiry .

Although quality of care is the responsibility of NHS trust boards, they have little impact, the survey suggests.

The Kings Fund report says that a transformation of culture is needed throughout the NHS if the lessons of the Francis inquiry are to be learnt.

It says trust boards need to demonstrate their commitment to quality of care by seeking and acting on patient complaints and staff surveys.

 Nicola Hartley, director of leadership development at the Kings Fund said: “It is the responsibility of all NHS organisations and professionals to put patients’ needs above those of the organisation, team or profession. Our survey suggests we have a long road to travel to achieve this.”

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:  “The quality of care needs to be a priority for the NHS but it is clear after Mid Staffs that we need a change of culture to make that happen.“

“The introduction of a new Chief Inspector of Hospitals will mean that every patient will be treated in a hospital judged on the quality of its care and the experience of its patients. They will be cared for in a place with a culture of zero harm, by highly trained staff with the right values and skills.”

“Strengthening leadership is key to our plans and the new chief inspector of hospitals will contribute to this. And, for the first time, boards of hospitals will be held to account for the quality of care they provide and for fostering an open and supportive organisational culture.“

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