The government's response to the forensic Francis enquiry into the tragic deaths at Mid Staffs is left wanting, Unite, the country’s largest union, said today (Tuesday 26 March).
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has failed to diagnose the real issues confronting the NHS and has supplied no concrete solutions to ensure patient safety and how concerns can be raised in the future.
Serious questions have still to be answered by the government in how it is going to implement the issues raised by the Francis report.
Unite head of health Rachael Maskell said: “Jeremy Hunt's continual failure to understand how the NHS works, and the drivers needed to change the culture of the NHS is reflected in his announcement today.
“He has presented no evidence as to how putting nurses in training - just one profession in the NHS - into the healthcare assistant role will change the culture in the NHS. Healthcare assistants need to be recognised as a profession in their own right and regulated accordingly.
“There are issues of training, supervision and resources that need to be addressed if student nurses are going to spend more time on the frontline.
“The serious issues of creating an enabling culture to help NHS staff reach their potential was not addressed either by Hunt.
“He has also ignored the central thrust of the Francis report to enable patients and staff to whistleblow, without repercussions, and to guarantee that their concerns will be investigated and appropriate change enforced.
“There was also silence on how different agencies should share intelligence and identify trends in poor practice.
“Jeremy Hunt has started a journey to tighten up regulation following the scandal of Mid Staffordshire, but he has not made clear how he is going to complete this journey.
“Hunt's total failure highlights how this government's ideological journey not just shows he has missed the road signs, but is on the wrong journey altogether. Hunt should stop protecting his own reputation and start protecting patients.
“Many NHS trusts are already suffering staff shortages because of the government’s blind adherence to the so-called £20bn worth of savings - these need to be reversed as a prerequisite for a tougher regulatory framework.
Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, was commenting on the government’s response to the Francis report into the grave abuses at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
Unite had welcomed last month’s report, particularly the importance of whistleblowing on poor practice; the regulation of healthcare support workers; and hiding information about poor care becoming a criminal offence.
Unite has already called for all NHS institutions to have an independent ‘patient safety officer’, so staff and patients can raise concerns without reprisal, and the setting up of a national intelligence unit to co-ordinate information about problematic trusts.
For further information please contact Rachael Maskell on 07768 693933 and/or Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940
Unite’s response to the Francis report
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.