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NHS should give patients 'more clout'

Nicholson makes public apology ahead of Mid Staffs report

Louise Prime

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Patients will be given a bigger say in their own care as well as in the running of NHS as a whole, the NHS Commissioning Board’s chief executive has promised. Sir David Nicholson said that the NHS must “put patients at the heart of everything it does”.

Speaking at the National Voices conference of charities and patient groups, he apologised to the people of Mid Staffs for the NHS letting them down “in the most devastating way”, but acknowledged that “apologies aren’t enough”. He promised a positive and swift response to the recommendations of the public inquiry into events at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, when the report is published next week, and said the NHS would give patients “much more clout” than they have ever had.

He said that the NHS planned to:

  • put patients in control of their own care, with seven days a week services to suit patient needs; National Voices have agreed to develop a narrative for integrated care from the patient/user perspective
  • operate in a more open and transparent way, publishing data “right across the system, from the general quality of GP practices and hospitals, through to information on individual consultants”
  • put patients at the top table – he pointed out that clinical commissioning group governing bodies must include at least two lay members, and that patients are represented on the NHS Commissioning Board, whose meetings are held in public and streamed online
  • listen and act when people tell us we get it wrong – going further than the friends-and-family test – and being honest and open when things go wrong.

Sir David said after the conference: “Next week the NHS will have to face up to difficult truths about what happens when the health service goes badly wrong.

“When the first Francis report came out I read at length all the accounts of patients’ families and experiences … They are difficult reading for anyone who really believes in the NHS and are committed to doing great things for patients …

“I want to apologise to the people, their families and carers for the truly dreadful experiences that they had to go through … But apologies are not enough and we need to be relentless in our efforts to put things right.”

He added: “A maturing NHS is making room for the voice of patients in a way it never has done before. There’s much we’ve done over the last few years to strengthen that position but there’s much more we need to do.”

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