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Call for ‘patient safety officers’ to stamp out Mid Staffs-style abuses

Unite, the union, has called for a network of ‘patient safety officers’ to be established across the NHS to banish the culture of fear highlighted by the Francis Report.
Patients, families and staff, wary of raising concerns about patient care through conventional channels, should be able to go in confidence to an independent ‘patient safety officer’ in place throughout all the provider and commissioning NHS organisations.
Unite is also calling for the creation of a National Intelligence Unit (NIU) - with a dedicated hotline for whistleblowers - to co-ordinate information about trusts that are causing concern.
These two recommendations are in a five-point response to the Francis Report that the union, which has 100,000 members in the health service, launched.
Unite said that it consistently raised concerns when the abuse was occurring and this was borne out by the witness statement that Unite regional officer, Mark Young gave to the inquiry.
Speaking ahead of the report's publication, Unite head of health Rachael Maskell said: “What the Francis Report into the terrible events at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust is expected to reveal, when it is published today (Wednesday, 6 February), is a rampant culture of fear, with staff cowed into not reporting abuses by a dysfunctional management.
“We believe that Mid Staffs is not unique and that the culture of bullying exists across the NHS - and poor morale leads to poor productivity.
“We want to introduce an enabling culture where those staff with concerns can go to an independent  patient safety officer who has the power to investigate them and then, if their recommendations go unheeded, to have statutory powers to enforce improvements, such as a programme of comprehensive training or organisational changes. ........
“Unite is prepared to play its part in calling for the introduction of a patient safety officer at every local trust, clinical commissioning group, and NHS provider and banish a culture of fear forever.
“Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said that he wants patients treated as human beings, and not as numbers – now he has the opportunity to make this aspiration a reality.”
For further information please contact Rachael Maskell on 07768 693933 and/or Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940 

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