John Barker explores the implications of the the ‘Mid Staffs’ inquiry

John Barker has been in practice as a barrister for over thirty years and appears in all levels of Court in Criminal and Regulatory matters. John is a member of the Association of Regulatory and Disciplinary Lawyers and has been appointed to sit as a Legal Assessor to The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, The General Osteopathic Council, The Association of Accounting Technicians and The Market Research Society.

Should you wish to speak about the issues in this article please contact John Barker at our office who leads our Professional Discipline Department"

Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust
Final Report of the Independent Inquiry into the Care Provided Chaired by Robert Francis QC

This Final Report was published on 6th February 2013.

Robert Francis QC concluded that patients were routinely neglected by the Trust as they prioritised cost cutting and targets over the fundamental responsibility of providing safe care. Robert Francis QC heard evidence from over 900 patients and families. Basic elements of care were neglected and there were failures in for example, hygiene and pain relief. There was a chronic shortage of staff which was largely responsible for substandard care. There was a disturbing lack of compassion by some staff. The deficiencies of the Trust were “systemic, deep-rooted and too fundamental to brush off as isolated incidents.” There were avoidable and unnecessary deaths.

The recommendations in the Report which addressed professional regulators are:

  1. To establish a mutual system for allowing better communication between professional regulators and the Care Quality Commission. This system would allow regulators “to know of the actions of the others and to understand their importance and significance for their own responsibilities.” The present failure of communication was a “regulatory gap”. A recommendation to overcome the regulatory gap was the establishment, by the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care (PSA), of a common independent tribunal system. The system would be to determine issues of fitness to practise and sanctions for all healthcare professionals.
  2. To encourage the General Medical Council (GMC) and the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) to be more proactive in their approach to monitoring fitness to practise. Further, if the Government carries forward this recommendation it would, ideally then be applied to all of the statutory healthcare regulators.
  3. To raise and improve the profile of the professional regulators by making the public aware at the point of service provision of their existence, role and contact details.
  4. To regulate Healthcare Support Workers (HCSW) involved in the delivery of care which can be both intimate and sensitive. These workers often act in an unsupervised capacity and are often unregistered. The present regime of regulation has led to inconsistency and confusion. There was support for the introduction of a statutory regulation of HCSW’s. The report recommended that the NMC should become responsible for the setting of standards for the HCSW workers in terms of education and training. Additionally the NMC would enforce any breaches of the Code of Conduct for HCSW. However, the Department of Health will undertake these functions until the NMC has addressed the concerns raised in the past about its’ administration.

Should you wish to speak about the issues in this article please contact John Barker at our office.

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