Mid Staffs Hospital Report

As the Councillor for Row Heath and representing my community; one of my roles is to sit on the Local Government Association’s Community Well Being Board as a substitute member.

The board sort of speaks for local government on all things Health and Social Care and often seems far removed from here in our community but its work is actually rather important to the lives of residents and in addition feeds a local government prospective into the policy making of Westminster.

A couple of weeks ago on a packed agenda the main item was a discussion on The Francis Report to consider local government’s responds to the Robert Francis Inquiry report into Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

The Mid Staffs hospital where, for far too long, patients were dying through lack of basic care. Here in Row Heath we are well served by the West Suffolk Hospital and Addenbrookes but lessons need to be learned so that it cannot happen ever again anywhere.

We discussed the 139 page executive summary which I have read and I made a couple of points in the debate around the one of the key things for me was that it is a significant part of the Staffordshire story that patients and relatives felt excluded from effective participation in the patients care. To my mind the concept of patient and public involvement in health service provision starts and should be at its most effective at the front end.

The report also looks at the role of external organisations such the Local Involvement Networks (LINKs) and other aspects of system failure following removal of the role of the commission for patient and Public involvement in Health (CPPHI) left each local authority to devise it own working arrangements; in Stafford the squabbling that had been such a feature of the previous system continued and no constructive work was achieved at all.

Criticism was also made of the County Council’s Health Scrutiny process the new Healthwatch organisation is also a key element of this championing the patients and their families and carers and we must ensure that the voice is heard and acted upon when there are concerns we must never ever allow Stafford to happen again and local government and Councillors have  a key role to play in this.

Criticism was also made of the County Council’s Health Scrutiny process and that it did not detect or appreciate the significance of any signs suggesting serious deficiencies at the trust. The evidence before the inquiry exposed a number of weaknesses in the concept of scrutiny which may mean that it will be an unreliable detector of concerns, however capable and conscientious committee member may be.

Here in Suffolk we must also reflect on the report and make sure we learn from the report; I have already sat down with Cllr. Dr. Alan Murray, Chairman of Suffolk Health Scrutiny and discussed what we need to take that on board; there are always improvements that can be made and it is important that our own committee is even better trained and robust with the resources needed to be as effective as is possible.

There are a wide range of routes through which patients and the public can feed comments into the health services and hold them to account. However in the case of Stafford, these were largely ineffective and received little support or guidance.

In the board’s debate I also I added that we should consider looking at other models such as the Region of Lower Austria who have the voice of patients and families built to the hospital key performance indicators.

The report is a sobering read but it makes a number of recommendations that we need to address, most within the Hospitals and the NHS, but some 145 to 150 are the ones Local government need to reflect on and make sure we are as robust in our role as we can be.

A caring, safe, hospital is vitally important to the community I represent and so occasionally these work far removed from my community is actually vitally important to it.

The report can be read or downloaded from:


About askcolinnoble
I'm a Conservative politician-lite, I dabble a bit in Party Politics with my main focus of working hard and being a strong voice for my community making sure local government delivers quality services and fellow residents get value for money for their hard earned money they pay in Council tax | Where this Gravatar appears and I am expressing my views or liking something I do so in a personal capacity and does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of Suffolk County Council, Forest Heath District Council, the Conservative Party or come to think of it anyone else | But having said the above at an election time and to stay legal, anything I write is promoted by Lance Stanbury on behalf of Colin Noble, both at West Suffolk Conservative Association, Park Farm Cottage, Fordham St. Genevieve, BurySt. Edmunds, Suffolk IP28 6TS

One Response to Mid Staffs Hospital Report

  1. IS/BR says:

    One of the things that is vital to Health Scrutiny is the resourcing given to the officers that support the committee. I recall one officer, on secondment from the Treasury, who was really one of the brightest and the best of our civil service. That he was around to support councillors during the restructuring of secondary health care that led to the closure of a number of community hospitals helped enormously.

    I note that in the time that has passed since SCC questioned the point of the SHA, and the ability of those running it to carry out their roles, questions that were ignored by the Labour Government, all those have now “retired” and the SHA is now no more. Nobody mourns its passing.

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