Healthcare leaders call for more ‘measured’ view of NHS

Leaders of 10 NHS frontline organisations have urged for a ‘more measured view of how the NHS is performing.’

In an open letter written to The Guardian on 31 December, the leaders have called for a new page to be turned with the coming of the New Year.

The letter argues that criticism of NHS services, as exemplified in media coverage of the scandals at Mid Staffordshire, Morecambe Bay and Colchester hospitals, as well as a number of public inquiries recommending improvements to care, has created a negative image of the NHS, in which many members of staff feel the service is facing constant attacks.

The letter has urged: ‘the failures in patient care must be addressed, and part of doing this means, in the words of Professor Don Berwick’s review of patient safety, leaving “fear, blame, recrimination and demoralisation” behind, and going forward with energy and optimism.’

‘If you listen to some of the NHS system leaders—ministers and the leaders of organisations such as NHS England, the Care Quality Commission, Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority—you get the impression that all NHS care is like Mid Staffs and that’s clearly not the case,’ said Chris Hopson, chief executive of the Foundation Trust Network.

‘We are really concerned that when you hear these system leaders talk you get a relentless focus on the negative [and] on identifying all that’s bad, and then coming up with really quite harsh blame and recrimination. Ministers, for perfectly understandable reasons, have chosen to focus on the areas where care failures have occurred, and those are important. But it would be really good if they also publicly recognised that the vast majority of NHS care is good or very good,’ he added.

The letter clearly acknowledges the need for change, but seeks to ‘strike the right balance between recognising the extraordinary achievements that NHS staff deliver every day and the need for improvement.’

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 27 January 2014.

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