2013 - The Year of Francis

19 August 2013

When writing the history of the NHS, historians will dub 2013, "the year of Francis". His name is invoked in the majority of lobbying documents and reports produced recently.

In the June issue of the BGS Newsletter, Professor David Oliver analyses the report: "Patients First and Foremost", the Government's response to the Francis recommendations.

Professor Oliver says: "As Francis himself has pointed out, many of the recommendations he made are things that we as doctors, nurses and allied professionals, whether delivering hands on care or in leadership roles, should have been getting on and doing in any case, without waiting for the Final report, or the government response. And those actions would be equally important in any of the four nations, the Irish Republic and beyond. Francis should not be seen as an “England only” issue."

"Only time will tell whether this proves to be another false dawn accompanied by fine words. I really hope not.  I note that the DH has said that 'by the end of 2013, every hospital should have published an action plan on how it intends to respond to the report' (notwithstanding Robert Francis’ own plea at our conference that he never wanted to see the management-speak “action plan” again as in his view, they resulted in unwarranted self-reassurance but rarely led to concerted action or meaningful change.)"

David goes on to say: "[The DH] certainly did not go uncritically for implementation of all Francis’ 291 recommendations – accepting some, ignoring others completely and – quite reasonably, buying time to think and consult on others. The Department of Health (DH recommendations were grouped into 5 themes, viz:  A: Preventing problems; B: Detecting problems quickly; C: Taking action promptly; D: Ensuring robust accountability; E: Ensuring staff are trained and motivated."

David's report provides a digestible analysis of the government's response to Francis, the implications for geriatricians and for their patients. He concludes: "After the next election and inevitable further service upheaval, we will see how much difference all of this effort and energy has achieved. Maybe I will write something then about, “Francis. How was it for you?” and I don’t mean “so what’s it like to be the Pope?” Read the full analysis here.

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