The Public Inquiry on Mid-Staffordshire has been published.
Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the General Medical Council and an expert in Tony Blair’s politics of the “Third Way” (see links below) responded on behalf of the GMC to the publication of Robert Francis’s report into the failings at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
As expected, revalidation of the medical profession features in the response:
“Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the General Medical Council, said:
‘Today’s report makes it clear that the system which was meant to protect patients let them down very badly.
‘Robert Francis QC exposes fundamental failings that allowed poor care to go unchecked and a culture to develop which led to catastrophic results.
‘Professional regulation on its own cannot prevent another Mid-Staffs, but by working with patients, employers and other organisations, we can play a part in helping to create a culture which encourages openness, which learns from mistakes and which supports front-line staff to deliver high quality safe care.
‘Anyone who has met and listened to the patients and their families – as we have- knows that what happened to them was inexcusable – their accounts are heart-breaking and should remind all of us involved with the health service that the culture must change.
‘Today’s report will make us redouble our efforts to achieve that goal. This means working more closely with colleagues on the ground, listening to those providing and receiving care and improved information sharing with other key players such as the Care Quality Commission.
‘We now have teams working with hospitals and patient groups throughout the country – but the system as a whole needs to get much better at spotting problems and intervening earlier to protect patients from harm and we are determined to play a part in that.
‘For us, the new system of checks on doctors, known as revalidation – which started at the end of last year – will enhance our ability to improve the quality of medical practice as a whole. It will mean that, for the first time, every doctor practising in the UK is required to demonstrate on an ongoing basis that they are competent and fit to do their job. It will take time to bed in, but we believe it will help create a safer service for patients across the country.
‘We also need to do more to make sure doctors and other professionals feel they can speak out. Last year we issued detailed guidance to all doctors on what they need to do whenever they have concerns about patient safety. We also recently launched a confidential helpline for doctors who are worried about patient safety so they can get advice and help when they need it. Any doctor can call the helpline and speak to us in confidence.
‘Taking responsibility, not just for the patient being treated but for all patients in the clinical environment, is at the heart of medical professionalism – working with others we are determined to do everything we can to promote it. Changing culture will not be achieved overnight – it requires commitment from all levels of the healthcare system, but if we are to avoid more tragedies we need to tackle this problem now.
‘In its response to the report, the Government has asked us about the action we have taken in relation to the individual doctors involved. We have investigated 42 doctors from Mid-Staffs and have sought to keep the inquiry updated on the progress of these cases. Twenty-two of the doctors have received formal letters from us advising them about their future conduct, one has accepted restrictions on their practice, and a further eight are subject to ongoing active investigation; four of whom are due to appear shortly before a public hearing. If they are found guilty, there will be sanctions including the possible loss of their registration.
‘In the last year, we have established the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, led by a senior judge who is in charge of overseeing the decisions of panels on doctors’ cases. This reform is an important step towards ensuring the public has confidence in the system. We have made progress but there is still more to do.
‘Today’s report welcomes a number of the steps taken by the GMC including our investment in information systems and recommends that other regulators follow some of our reforms, such as revalidation and the introduction of local employer teams. The report also sets out a number of key recommendations. We will study them carefully and be ready to lead where necessary and work with others to bring about the changes that are needed if all patients are to receive the care they deserve.’
The Witch Doctor doubts if revalidation will create a safer service for patients across the country.
However, she has an idea flitting through her head at the moment that, using revalidation in a rather different way from that intended that it might, just might, make healthcare safer.
She might even get round to gradually put her thoughts on paper on how revalidation may be put to good use.
By turning it on its head,
For the benefit of patients.
In the meantime, here is a reminder that there will be many Business Intelligence Specialists waiting in the wings to profit from the revalidation process no doubt spurred on by the Mid-Staffordshire Scandal. It is always worth following where the taxpayers’ money goes when new initiatives are introduced into the NHS.
These are some of The Witch Doctor’s thoughts on revalidation in 2010?
Do you suppose her views have changed, My Black Cat?