Josh Loeb and Sonia Elks report in The Times 28th May 2014: NHS ‘would crash it if was an airline’ says Mid Staffs inquiry chief – What could be clearer? – Perhaps it is that the Regional Health Services are crashing, and the Mayday message is not getting through, and that includes Alice Thompson.
If the NHS were an airline plane crashes would “happen all the time”, the chairman of the inquiry into the Mid-Staffs scandal has warned.
Robert Francis, QC, said that the public believed that the quality of care available through the NHS was much better than it actually is. While the majority of patients received acceptable care, he said that services were patchy and patients were too often being blamed for “crowding out” accident and emergency departments when they did not know where else to go.
He said that NHS chiefs had become “complacent” and should take their cue from the private sector, where the needs of the customer were paramount.
“The answer is not to get the people to fit in with the service – you need the service to fit in with the people,” he told The Daily Telegraph.
“The trouble is it’s no use being satisfied or complacent – if we ran our airline industry on the same basis planes would be falling out of the sky all the time,” the barrister said.
“We’ve just got to change the attitude that because it’s provided by the state it’s all right for a number of people to be treated badly; well it’s not. Airlines would go out of business very quickly if they worked that way.”
Mr Francis said that the public had not been given “genuine information” about how services were performing, leading to a perception that things were “rather better than the probably are”.
More honesty was needed about the need to close some health services in order to put more resources into others, according to the barrister.
He also raised concerns about funding considerations being used as an excuse for failing to provide acceptable levels of staff.
“All we are talking about is proving something that is safe, something that is effective,” he said.
“If you can’t afford that then why are you proving it at all?”
There was a danger of health professionals and politicians resisting essential major changes including the closure of some local services because of “knee-jerk reactions”, he said.