Gov set to publish response to Francis report into Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust

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The Government is currently publishing its initial response to the Francis report. The report identified that up to 1,200 patients died needlessly following a series of major failings and appalling care standards between January 2004 and March 2009 at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust.

Student nurse as health care assistant

The Government has conceded that a change of culture is needed across the system to prevent the type of harrowing neglect and abuse that occurred at the Stafford hospital from happening again.

Following 290 recommendations made by the Francis report the Government is proposing that nurses will have to spend time as healthcare assistants, doing basic tasks such as washing and dressing before completing their degree training as "front-line, hands-on caring experience and values need to be equal with academic training".

Ministers believe placing student nurses on wards as healthcare assistants for up to a year will help them develop the caring skills required, before going on to do a degree.

New minimum training standards and a code of conduct for healthcare assistants is also likely to be unveiled, although this looks like it will fall short of the registration scheme recommended by the public inquiry.

Peter Walsh, the Chief Executive of the UK charity for patient safety and justice, Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA) has said that introducing a legal duty of candour, which was also demanded by the public inquiry, had the potential to have the biggest impact and if this is accepted by Jeremy Hunt then "it will be the biggest advance in patient safety and patient's rights in the history of the NHS".

He continues that "this culture of cover up and denial is a cancer eating away at the NHS" but a legal Duty of Candour will help change the culture of cover up and denial, because such a duty would require the NHS to be honest when it makes a mistake because currently, "whilst frowning upon cover-ups, the system has effectively tolerated them".

All patients have the right to be treated with respect, to be protected from physical and mental abuse and have their dignity protected and the failings, abuse and neglect highlighted in the Francis report is in no-way acceptable or defendable and ultimately can result in serious injury or even death which could and should have been avoided.

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