Government responds to Stafford inquiry with new “whistleblower in chief” to rate hospitals

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 27 March 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2030
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1BMJ

NHS hospital trusts in England will be placed under a statutory duty of candour to be open with patients and regulators if they believe that treatment or care has caused death or serious injuries, and organisations that flout the duty will incur criminal penalties.

The measure is part of a package of reforms aimed at creating a new culture of openness and safety in the NHS, after widespread institutional failings were laid bare by the public inquiry into events at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust between 2005 and 2009.

The public inquiry, which reported in February, painted a damning picture of a top-down culture in which patients were subjected to “appalling” care in the pursuit of management targets, while various regulators failed to pick up that the system was failing.1

Robert Francis QC, who chaired the inquiry, recommended that it should be made a criminal offence for any doctor, nurse, or director of a healthcare organisation to provide intentionally misleading information to …

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