Senior NHS managers should take responsibility for failings says Stroud MP Neil Carmichael
Patients and the National Health Service
All of us depend on the National Health Service in some way. Over the years, I and my family have had excellent experiences in all parts of the NHS and we are committed to it. Locally, we have lots to be proud of with our hospitals being particularly popular.
It is, nevertheless, important for patients to feel confident, informed and respected. My postbag and surgeries do include individuals with cause to complain or, at least, questions about internal priorities. With this in mind, I recently chaired an Associate Parliamentary Health Group’s seminar entitled “Is the NHS complaints system fit for purpose?”. Obviously, the scandal and the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust were uppermost in many attendees’ minds but other problems were also raised.
The main speakers, including Dame Julie Mellor, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, effectively answered “Yes and No”. Some excellent procedures were outlined but also stressed was the need to listen to patients and to provide adequate opportunities to garner their views. There are a growing number of patient organisations and an increasing range of internet resources for feedback.
Dame Julie is leading a full review of the complaints system. She noted when things go wrong, it is invariably a failure of leadership and governance. Essentially, this amounts to situations where the culture and systems tolerate poor practice. The Mid-Staffordshire situation is a case in point, where ‘targets’ became much more imperative than caring for patients.
This question of accountability lurks behind such difficulties. I and some of my Parliamentary colleagues will be raising this in the House of Commons this week with a particular focus on the need for senior managers to take responsibility, having already put the spotlight on Sir David Nicholson’s role in the Mid-Staffordshire tragedy.
Another area of concern is the treatment of people with mental health issues. Problems associated with advocacy and patient information can cause distress for carers and loved ones. Also, the interface between the NHS and social care can be difficult to cross. Both of these topics remain on the agenda. If you are interested in the issues raised above, please contact me on 01453 751572 or visit my website – www.neilcarmichael.co.uk. Now, you can also follow me on twitter @neil_mp.