Mid Staffs scandal: Dying Matters' response

7 February 2013
Eve Richardson, Chief Executive of Dying Matters and the National Council for Palliative Care, has condemned the 'scandalous lack of care' revealed by the publication this week of a damning report into standards at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

Following revelations that up to 1,200 people may have died needlessly at Stafford Hospital between 2005 and 2009, Eve Richardson said: "Never again must the failure of care, compassion and basic humanity that was seen in Mid Staffordshire be allowed to happen in our hospitals or anywhere else in our health and care system. Caring for older people and those approaching the end of their lives is rightly said to be a litmus test for health and social care and indeed a measure of our whole society, but we know that this scandalous lack of care was not confined to Mid Staffs.

"We urgently need a massive culture shift, with zero tolerance of unacceptable and unsafe care and far more done to humanise hospitals and to listen to, understand and learn from the experiences of people in hospital and their families. This demands leadership by all those involved in caring for people and a genuine commitment to bring about compassionate care for all. Leadership doesn’t just come from the top; everybody has a responsibility to make change by ensuring they do things differently to put the needs and dignity of the people they are caring for first.

"As well as more effective inspections of hospitals, greater scrutiny and clearly understood standards about patient safety, treatment and care, staff at all levels must feel able to voice their concerns with confidence that senior managers will take these seriously and act upon them. This requires a new approach to recruitment and appraisals with a greater emphasis on common values and communication skills, more systematic training, including core training in caring for people approaching the end of their life, and embedding measures of patient experience throughout all health and care settings.

"Putting patients first, including through high quality and compassionate nursing, is absolutely essential, which is why at Dying Matters we are delighted to be working with the Chief Nurse of Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust and her team on a three year long compassionate care training programme to support people at the end of their lives, their families and staff. All 6,000 nurses at the Trust’s three hospitals as well as those in affiliated community services will undergo the training, which is aimed at better equipping them to care for and support people at the end of their lives.”

Professor Mayur Lakhani, Chair of the National Council for Palliative Care and the Dying Matters Coalition and a working GP, added: "It is clear that something has gone horribly wrong with the leadership and management of some NHS hospitals. I would like to pay particular tribute to those people who knew something was wrong and tirelessly persisted in ensuring the truth was heard, despite the obstacles they faced; but they should never have had to do this.

"The only way we can ensure that such appalling care does not get repeated is through greater transparency and accountability of our hospitals, and not wavering in our commitment to ensure compassion and excellent care for all those who need it, wherever they are.”

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Download the final report - external link

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