Rotten Foundation

By DeusExMacintosh

An independent inquiry found today that there were “shocking” systematic failures of hospital care in Mid Staffordshire that left patients routinely neglected, humiliated and in pain as the trust focused on cutting costs and hitting government targets.

Today’s report from the inquiry led by Robert Francis QC, which was commissioned by the health secretary, Andy Burnham, concluded with 18 recommendations for the trust and the government, but was criticised by some families who reiterated calls for a full public inquiry.

The Francis inquiry was commissioned in last September after a damning investigation by the Healthcare Commission six months earlier, which found that between 400 and 1,200 more people died at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust than at other hospital trusts between 2005 and 2008.

The appalling picture painted by the commission – which described how some patients drank water from vases because they were so thirsty and how many had to rely on their families for food – was not exaggerated, Francis said today.

His inquiry heard evidence from some 900 patients and families, finding that many patients “suffered horrific experiences that will haunt them and their loved ones for the rest of their lives … There can no longer be any doubt as to the enormity of what occurred”…

Gordon Brown described the management failure at the trust, which hit targets and achieved elite foundation status, as completely unacceptable and said the government was working on plans to strike offhospital managers responsible for such issues.

The Tory health spokesman Andrew Lansley castigated the government’s “tick box” culture and underlined his party’s backing for a public inquiry.

Julie Bailey, who founded the campaign group Cure the NHS after the death of her mother at the hospital, described the report as “absolutely outrageous”. “All he’s done is recommended another independent inquiry,” she said.

The families also complained that evidence to the Francis inquiry was not given in public.

Many staff had expressed concerns about the situation at the trust. “The tragedy was that they were ignored,” Francis said. “I suggest that the board of any trust could benefit from reflecting on their own work in the light of what is described in my report.”

The Care Quality Commission, which has replaced the Healthcare Commission, said Mid Staffordshire was now safe to provide hospital services but it would ensure standards were met.

The Guardian

One Comment

  1. Posted February 26, 2010 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    There are three deadly sins of metrics.

    Reward and Punishment. As soon as you link a metric-gathering system to rewards and punishments, the system will be subverted. It’s easier to subvert the system than to try and strike impossible goals, for instance. No matter how tempting, no matter how much it would make the higher management’s life easier, you cannot use these figures for those purposes or even allow suspicion that they are being used as such, or the whole game is off.

    Arbitrary Goal Setting. You can’t just set a goal and expect that it will be met. You need at least some baseline data on how you perform currently, over an extended period of time. You also need to justify why a goal is achievable — you need to perform the estimation process and distinguish between estimates and commitments.

    Single Point Goals or Estimates. Uncertainty is a fact of life. Providing a single-point goal or estimate guarantees that your goal or estimate will be wrong. Goals and estimates should always be expressed in a range. As a program progresses the range can be progressively narrowed as “the cone of uncertainty” becomes smaller.

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