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Senior physicians call for 'cultural change' in NHS

The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh has said there are problems across the NHS which could cause the care failures at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust to be repeated elsewhere.

The college published a report today called Time to refocus the NHS on quality and dignity of patient care. In it, the RCPE president and vice presidents warn the NHS has lost its focus. The report argues that the lessons learned from Mid Staffordshire “must be acted upon and result in cultural change to avoid repetition”.

Increased acute workload, inefficient working practices and greater pressure on doctors are the three main factors it claims have contributed to compromised patient care.

The editorial states: “It is also all too evident from the inquiry report and our experience of working within the NHS that many clinicians feel disengaged from management and are concerned that their clinical advice regarding best treatment for patients can be over-ruled by non-clinical managers.

“As such, we believe there is a pressing need to address the disconnect which has emerged and to improve clinical engagement with management.”

As well as approving of a number of key Francis report recommendations concerning patient care and transparency, the editorial highlights a rising need for all-age generalist expertise in hospital medicine, ensuring patients have equitable access to hospital services. It reveals the RCPE’s intention to establish a confidential standards “hot line” by which its members can raise concerns over poor quality care.

RCPE president Neil Dewhurst said in a statement: “The Mid Staffordshire Inquiry report made harrowing and depressing reading for all with an interest in standards of care and presents a litany of failings which occurred at all levels.

“While patients should be reassured that there is much high quality care provided by the NHS, there is potential for the events in Mid Staffordshire to be repeated in any hospital in Scotland or the UK. We must not allow this to happen.”

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