Francis report calls for a “patient-centred culture”

As far as importance is concerned, this is perhaps the most significant week for Staffordshire I can remember.

The Francis Inquiry issued its second report this week into the problems with Mid-Staffordshire hospitals, calling for a “patient-centred culture”, a no tolerance attitude to poor care, and sweeping recommendations to transform the NHS.

I want to take this opportunity to focus on what the County Council can do to make sure this kind of thing never happens again.

The events which occurred at Stafford Hospital are without doubt one of the worst times not only for the National Health Service, but for Staffordshire itself.  There isn’t a single organisation involved with the trust at that time which doesn’t bear some responsibility. However, from the first report issued in 2010 we took on board the lessons and have been proactive in working to improve standards and ensuring when things go wrong they are acted upon.

I believe that if we are really serious about transforming the NHS and local services, then the voice of the public needs to be the driver for change and sadly in Staffordshire we know all to well why this must happen.

Although not directly responsible for the way patients were treated, the county council could have done more at the time to challenge information that was presented and I am saddened we didn’t. But while it was a different time and effectively a different council – much has been done since and we remain committed to doing everything in our power to help support partners deliver a first class health service for the people of Staffordshire and to ensure that history is not repeated. 

We have a smaller, but still important, role to both scrutinise and challenge and we have already made decisive changes to ensure Staffordshire residents not only have a voice, but that it is as loud as it can be and is listened to.

We now have the independent patient champion ‘Engaging Communities Staffordshire’ up and running and we will be bolstering this in the spring with the launch of HealthWatch – a public-led organisation tasked with shaping NHS services.

We have also made the Council’s scrutiny procedures of NHS partners tougher, with the public also able to attend meetings and ask questions directly of senior NHS officials.

I would like to reassure people that real progress has been made and will continue to, and thanks to this we will have a very different, improving story to tell in the county.

A Taste of Staffordshire – Last week I was invited to the Palace of Westminster for the Staffordshire Food and Drink Festival, where over 50 MP’s were given the opportunity to sample our county’s finest delights. From our oatcakes and cheese to our bread and beer, our local wares are cherished by those who make and enjoy them, and traditional methods fill them with Staffordshire character. I’m sure many of our residents would testify to the quality of our food and drink and I’m glad we were able to showcase our produce at such an influential event. With current concerns about the traceability of food this is the right time to showcase what Staffordshire can offer and persuade customers they can trust what they buy when it comes from local producers.

I’m also delighted that we have signed our District Deal with Stafford Borough Council, to help create more jobs by increasing support and incentives for businesses.

For many years we have worked in tandem with Stafford Borough Council to regenerate the area, and improve the lives of local people. This District Deal sets out how we will continue working together on a range of key projects over the next five years.

The District Deals we are signing up to agree to pool the money collected through business rates, so that it can be invested in projects like new business parks, better roads and improved training that will make a real difference to residents and business.

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