Sunday, February 24, 2013

Creating a patient-centred culture in medicine

She may not like me saying if she thinks I am not taking her seriously, but Part One of Julie Bailey's book From ward to Whitehall should be required reading for training health professionals. Part Two is about the politics that followed her mother's death up to the publication of the Healthcare Commission's report (see previous post). I'm not convinced that Robert Francis' recent report has yet answered how to "stop the suffering" in the NHS (see previous post), which has been the motivation for her campaign.

Francis makes no attempt, as far as I can see, to set his findings in the context of the literature about patient safety. A crucial document in this is To err is humanwhich recognised the common nature of iatrogenic damage. Patient safety has been framed as an explicit public concern since.

The problem is that protocols designed to reduce errors have actually made patient safety worse (see previous post). These factors meant that what was happening on the wards in Mid-Staffs was not appreciated. The Cure the NHS campaign was started because Julie Bailey had a poor response to her complaint. It was so bad (not that I'm blaming the matron who responded and the Director of Nursing that reinforced the response, because they were caught up in this manageralism) that, as far as I know, she has not yet had a proper answer. There clearly has been a culture of investigation at Mid-Staffs since but it sounds as though it has been destructive. According to the BMJ of 42 doctors referred to the GMC only four will face a hearing.

Francis, again as far as I can see, did not pick up on the evidence he was given about the Healthcare Commission "going out with a bang" in the report on Mid-Staffs (see previous post). This doesn't mean that I don't take the evidence from Cure the NHS seriously. It's just that the managerialism introduced by the Healthcare Commission did nothing to support health professionals in exercising their responsibilities in providing care (see previous post). Medicine still needs to become more patient-centred as Francis says. Hopefully the government's response to his report might help to take this forward.

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