A year down the line, and is it enough to change the culture of the NHS?

It was February 2013 when the 1,800 page Francis Report was released in response to the well-known and serious failings of the Mid Staffs Trust. On this anniversary month, we consider the changes that have taken place in the past year. 


The Nuffield Trust has written a follow up report, and stated that four out of five hospitals have brought in reforms since the publication of the Francis Report. The Nuffield Trust writes that the themes of the report; openness, adequate staffing levels and a patient-centred focus, have resonated with hospital leaders and that ‘Quality of Care’ is highlighted as a ‘top priority’. 


NHS England has conducted a short review, and has highlighted the successes in the last year. These would include the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) redevelopments of its approach to regulations, NHS England has published clinical outcomes across ten new specialities, and a new patient safety collaborative programme is under development.


However, as the newspapers are keen to point out – these also coincide with the police launch of a formal inquiry into Colchester hospital, following reports of bullying and changing cancer waiting times. Furthermore, the number of interventions by Monitor into NHS trusts has doubled from the previous year, and David Prior, chairman of the CQC has since called for serious "transformational change" of the health service. 


However, uptake of recommendations and initiating processes takes time, changing cultural practices may take longer still. These developments have also come at a time when there is pressure on hospital funding. 


Robert Francis has indeed said that there is an “inevitable tension between finance and quality” in some hospitals. Tensions that will be familiar to others in the health care industry who are affected. 


There have been a range of changes, adaptations and innovations in the NHS landscape in the last few years, many of which we as industry are keenly aware of. The question however begs, is a year long enough to bring in the required changes? Or should we continue to look further along the road.


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