Commenting on the Health Secretary’s initial response to the Francis Inquiry report today, Dr Mark Porter, Chair of BMA Council, said:
“We share the Health Secretary’s commitment to greater openness and respect for the dignity of individual patients.
“Creating a culture of zero harm will depend on staff feeling able to speak out freely about poor care. Doctors already have clear professional duties to raise and act on concerns about patient safety. On the rare occasions when they do not, it is often because they are afraid of harassment by employers or colleagues. We share the Health Secretary’s concerns that the threat of criminal sanctions for individual staff would be counterproductive and risk creating a new climate of fear.”
Commenting on plans for a new inspection regime and ‘Ofsted-style’ ratings, Dr Porter said:
“The purpose of the inspection regime should be to ensure that NHS organisations are focusing on their primary mission – to provide safe, high-quality care. We need to avoid a system that encourages managers to focus unduly on ratings.
“It’s important that patients have access to information about the quality of services. However, most healthcare providers are extraordinarily complex organisations, and it is impossible to reduce everything they do to a single meaningful score. Even individual hospital departments and GP practices provide a wide range of different services.
“It is vitally important that we do not allow a ratings system to create a misleading picture of any hospital department or GP practice. This would be unhelpful to patients, as well as demoralising to staff.”