Healthcare Commission report a damning indictment of emergency care in Mid Staffordshire

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Commenting in response to the Healthcare Commission's investigation into emergency care at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, The King's Fund's Chief Executive, Niall Dickson, said:

'This is a damning indictment of the quality of emergency care provided to patients in Mid Staffordshire and raises fundamental questions about how the hospital has been managed and why the right numbers of skilled doctors and nurses were not in place. This is not to say that care in other parts of the hospital was poor, but it does reveal there has been a fundamental breakdown in the systems and standards patients have a right to expect.

'The Healthcare Commission's investigation points out that the Trust Board was too focused on money, targets and achieving foundation trust status. While it would be wrong to make a scapegoat out of targets, meeting them should never come at the expense of delivering high-quality, safe care. Running an efficient hospital within budget and offering high-quality services are not mutually exclusive – hundreds of NHS trusts are doing just that.

'Safety and quality must be the first priority and should obsess anyone responsible for hospital care – we do know that in the past some other  trust boards have failed in this area but they are the exceptions. Above all hospitals need to have a safety culture in place and ensure they have the right numbers of staff with the right skills and training and, just as crucially, they need to use and deploy their staff effectively. Well managed finance, governance and safety are all absolutely vital and each depends on the others, but the greatest of these is safety.'

Notes to editors

  1. For further information or interviews, please contact The King’s Fund press and public affairs office on 020 7307 2585, 020 7307 2632 or 020 7307 2581. An ISDN line is available for interviews on 020 7637 0185.

  2. The King’s Fund is a charity that seeks to understand how the health system in England can be improved. Using that insight, we help to shape policy, transform services and bring about behaviour change. Our work includes research, analysis, leadership development and service improvement. We also offer a wide range of resources to help everyone working in health to share knowledge, learning and ideas.