Plans to safeguard NHS patients’ lives

Health Direct reproduces the Conservatives and the Telegraph’s plans to safeguard patients’ lives in the face of labour’s NHS targets and red tape.

Andrew Lansley issues five point plan to avoid another Mid Staffs:

Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has issued a set of five proposals to ensure another healthcare crisis of the kind we saw at the Mid Staffordshire Hospital is avoided in future.

1. Tougher inspection: Additional scrutiny powers for the ‘Local Involvement Networks’ that represent patients and the local community. ‘LINKs’ will also be given independence from local authorities so that they cannot be swayed by politics.
2. Empowerment of patients: “Conservatives will establish a strong, independent, national consumer voice for patients: HealthWatch.” HealthWatch will help LINKs to hold local hospitals to account and will escalate concerns to national prominence, if necessary.
3. Empowerment of GPs: Rather than Primary Care Trusts holding budgets for buying treatment from local hospitals, the Conservatives would give the power to GPs. GPs, say the Conservatives, are closest to patients and best-placed to keep an eye out for things going wrong.
4. Scrapping targets: Abolition of bureaucratic targets will ensure that “doctors and nurses should never be put in a position where they have to choose between meeting a target and doing what is best for their patients.”
5. Greater transparency: The Mid Staffs catastrophe only became apparent after the hospital’s mortality rates were published – not something that is routine. A Conservative government will require more information on mortality and survival rates at each NHS trust.


The Telegraph suggests:

1 An independent inquiry into the regulation and supervision of NHS hospitals
We, the Patients Association and ‘Cure the NHS’ demand an inquiry, chaired by a judge, into both the failings in Staffordshire and the way hospitals are supervised nationwide.
2A review of hospital targets to ensure they work to improve quality of care
Doctors have warned that the four-hour waiting time target for A&E; is attainable only by delaying admissions or forcing some patients through too quickly, to the detriment of their care.
3 Nurses to focus on patient care – not form-filling – as their central duty
Nurses have complained that they are sometimes too busy filling in forms to carry out basic nursing duties that are crucial for the wellbeing of patients.
4 Routine publication of comprehensive death rates for hospitals
Secrecy over mortality rates for particular treatments keeps patients in the dark about failing hospitals.
5 Patients to be given a stronger voice in the running of their hospitals
The local NHS watchdog system has been reformed repeatedly under Labour but there are concerns that the current structures lack the power to hold hospital chiefs to account.
6 Assurance that senior hospital staff will not be rewarded for failure
Martin Yeates, the chief executive of Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust, is now suspended on full pay and could receive a payoff, despite a previous pledge by the Government to clamp down on such payouts.

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