Will an ‘Honest and Open’ Culture Improve the NHS?

13th November 2014

A report by the Patient Association has found that half of the 1,200 people surveyed felt that their quality of care would be compromised if they made a complaint and almost as many said that their complaint was badly handled when complaining to the NHS.

This report also found that families who had lost a loved one as a result of hospital failings felt they had been essentially failed twice as their complaint had not been handled effectively and they felt that they had not been given a true account of what had happened.

A new draft guidance has been proposed by the General Medical Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Council following Sir Robert Francis QC’s call for a more honest and open culture within the NHS following the Mid Staffs scandal. The proposal outlines the need for medical staff to apologise when mistakes are made and to be more honest when things go wrong.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has however claimed that the cause of the fault must be established before medical staff are blamed for failure.

This follows changes in the law introduced last month, which sees hospitals legally required to disclose incidents that have caused patients harm, whether it be moderate or significant, and to provide an apology.

Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary, has claimed that the new proposals are fundamental in the reform of the NHS and will bring about the improvement of patient safety that everyone expects of the system.

“Transparency and honesty when things go wrong are powerful tools to improve patient safety, and part of the continued culture change we are determined to see in the NHS. These new guidelines will complement the statutory duty of candour on organisations and help make the NHS safer than ever before.”

Here at Fletchers Solicitors we hear from many patients that feel that they have not only been let down by the NHS, but also let down when their complaint is not dealt with effectively and efficiently. We believe that these new proposals will bring much needed trust back and the system will benefit as a whole to prevent more incidents similar to the Mid Staffs scandal being allowed to occur again.

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