'Francis report must inspire positive change'
Tomorrow is one of the biggest moments for nursing, and indeed the whole NHS.
Just before Robert Francis QC publishes his report into the care failings at Mid Staffordshire Trust, a sharp intake of breath will be audible wherever you are in healthcare.
Various delays have ensured the anticipation has been building. Doubtless it was agonising for those who lost friends and family at the hospital at the centre of this inquiry.
And yet despite the delays, very few people will have read Francis’s report before it is made public.
The QC’s life has been consumed over the past couple of years by uncovering what happened and trying to decide what lessons can be learnt not only by the trust but also the wider health service and the professions within. He has taken evidence from a cast of 187 in person, with more submitting statements.
Nurses as senior as the former England chief nursing officer Dame Christine Beasley, Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter, as well as Care Quality Commission former chief executive Cynthia Bower, former health secretary Andy Burnham and NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson have all given evidence.
While no one knows exactly what this report will say, Francis’s first independent inquiry report, which was published in 2010 and preceded the public inquiry, divulged clues to those areas he would focus on.
He is likely to make significant recommendations about ensuring the quality of care and treatment provided is of a high standard, and will doubtless advise tightening up regulatory performance to prevent such a catalogue of errors being missed again.
This game-changing document gives everyone a chance to mourn, and reflect on their practice. And then they must decide how they can make sure such catastrophic events are never repeated.
The report must not be another document that gathers dust on a shelf. It must not be dismissed by health workers. It must not be something that dominates the headlines for a few days before falling into obscurity.
This must be the catalyst that inspires positive change. The NHS must become a consistent home for excellence. It must become a place where people feel supported to raise concerns.
Financial targets and scarce resources are not an excuse for people dying needlessly, or suffering pain and indignity.
This is the time for the NHS to recognise what is wrong and to put it right. Francis can have a lasting positive effect - but it is up to the government and the entire NHS to make sure it does.