In the aftermath of NHS Stafford Hospital report by Robert Francis QC- there seems a huge contradiction- it blames everyone and yet at the same time no one is singled out for the hundreds of needless deaths.Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, said it felt “wrong” that no one had been brought to book, while David Cameron said doctors should have been struck off.
Julie Bailey, who set up the pressure group Cure the NHS after her mother died at Stafford and was instrumental in exposing the failures, said: “We want resignations. We have lost hundreds of lives within the NHS, we want accountability.”
She said Sir David Nicholson- the chief executive of the NHS, who was in charge of a body that had oversight of Mid Staffs for part of the time when the deaths were occurring, was “a bully” who should not be in charge of the NHS.
She also called for the resignation of Peter Carter, the general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, which had told a whistle-blower at the hospital to “keep her head down” rather than fight for change. She added: “We want everybody who knew about this disaster to be held to account, otherwise nothing will change in the NHS.”
James Duff, whose wife Doreen died after receiving sub-standard care at Stafford Hospital, said: “Not one person has lost their job over this – instead they have been promoted and some people have been moved sideways. This has been a disaster yet nobody is accountable.”
The public sector union Unite said Sir David’s position was “untenable” as he was “not the person to lead the NHS into the world of patient-focused care as outlined by Robert Francis”.
Sir David was chief executive of Shropshire and Staffordshire Strategic Health Authority, with oversight of Mid Staffs, for a nine-month period in 2005-06 when the first instances of mistreatment and neglect are believed to have taken place.
Katherine Murphy, the chief executive of the Patients Association, said the report was a “watershed moment” for the health service.
She said: “It is clear that he [Mr Francis] has understood some of the very real failings that patients and their families face day in and day out.
“It is clear from the report that there is a lot of blame to go around for what happened in Stafford. Unfortunately too many people have escaped genuine accountability.”
Among the Francis Report’s 290 recommendations were the need for NHS hospitals to put “patients first, not numbers” and a “zero tolerance” approach to poor standards of care.
Health workers should have a “statutory duty of candour” and the obstruction of this duty should be a criminal offence, while gagging clauses preventing staff from raising concerns should be banned.
Ed Miliband, whose Labour party was in power as the Mid Staffs scandal unfolded, also apologised, but said the scandal was “not typical” of what happened in NHS hospitals up and down the country.