All hospitals should publish the staffing levels on their wards on a daily basis, the Commons health committee has recommended.
In a report published today, the group concluded the government’s proposal to ensure safe staffing - through “periodic inspection” by the Care Quality Commission and a requirement for trust boards to publish staffing levels twice a year - would not work.
Instead it proposed commissioners should require daily publication and sharing of staffing information.
The report, After Francis: making a difference, calls on all providers of NHS funded care to adopt the system used by Salford Royal Foundation Trust.
Committee chair Stephen Dorrell said Salford’s approach was an “application of the principle of openness” in practice and benefitted from not being a “formula developed in Whitehall”.
He said organisations should be free to use a different approach to that taken by Salford but should be prepared to explain why their system was as good or better.
Salford Royal calculates staffing using a triangulated approach of a workforce tool, benchmarking with other organisations and discussion between senior nurses. It then publishes a “staffing board” on every ward which is updated daily with the name of the sister or charge nurse, the number of patients, how many nursing staff there are and how many nursing staff there should be.
The report, which examined the recommendations of the Francis report and the government’s initial response, also criticised the government’s decision to hand responsibility for the National Reporting and Learning Service to NHS England.
The service, which collects data on patient safety incidents across the NHS, was part of the National Patient Safety Agency unitl it was abolished in 2012.
The report said this gave the “impression… that the overall significance of patient safety policy has been downgraded” and called for responsibility to be given to the CQC.
MPs also backed plans for a breach of fundamental standards to be a criminal offence but urged the government to consider whether it could be done through existing legislation.
They described NHS England’s failure to make the contractual duty of candour apply to commissioners as a “significant opportunity missed” to “promote a more open and accountable culture” in the NHS.
During the evidence sessions held to inform the report the committee heard from former United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust chief executive Gary Walker. The report said the committee had made “no finding of fact” in relation to Mr Walker’s claim he was sacked for raising concerns about patient safety but had found legal representatives from United Lincolnshire “showed insensitivity” in attempting to prevent Mr Walker talking about his concerns.