Response to the publication of the Francis Inquiry report

Posted: February 6, 2013

Response from Nerissa Vaughan, Chief Executive of Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust following the publication of the Francis Inquiry report

Anyone who is interested in and cares about the NHS will be shocked by the stories patients and relatives have told to the Francis Inquiry about their experiences at Stafford Hospital between 2005 and 2009.

The majority of people who work in the NHS do so to care and support patients in times of need.  The report therefore makes grim reading for all of us who work in healthcare about how low standards of care have fallen in some parts of the NHS and how staff and organisations can be distracted from the basic principles of what we're here to do. 

The report contains 290 recommendations which will have an impact on all corners of the NHS.  Every Trust can learn lessons from what happened at Mid Staffs and our Trust is no exception.

We know that within our own Trust the vast majority of patients have a positive patient experience, but that doesn't mean we are perfect and that there isn't more we can do to improve standards and make sure quality and safety are our absolute focus every day.


From board to ward our leaders must inspire a culture of safety, openness, accountability and compassion.

To support improvements in patient care, later this month we will be launching a new training programme for 80 of our frontline leaders including nurses, midwives, matrons and ward managers to ensure they have the right skills to support their teams to provide the best care we can.

Every month we report quality and safety issues to our Trust Board in public through our Board papers.  We have an open approach to reporting incidents and what we are doing in response.  A great deal of time is spent by the Board focussing on issues of quality and safety.   An action plan detailing what we need to do in response to the findings of the Francis Inquiry will be monitored at the Board so that the report is something that helps deliver real change on the ground.


Investing in getting the right people with the right training is a crucial element of our new nursing strategy which has recently been published. 

Our aim is to improve the consistency and standard of nursing care across the Trust ensuring compassion, care, dignity and courage are all central to nursing care.  Our aim through this work will be to bring all wards and departments up to the standard of the best.

Patient experience

We also know that the experience of our patients is the ultimate measure of our services. That's why we introduced the national Friends and Family Test well ahead of the national rollout in April. This will help us to better understand patient experience at ward level so we can learn from our best performing areas and raise standards in others.  This information, together with the feedback we receive through surveys and complaints, is crucial to understanding where we need to improve.

Openness and accountability

We have a Being Open policy in place which sets the standards we expect from staff when things go wrong. We encourage line managers and supervisors to be approachable, welcome feedback and not treat those who raise concerns any differently.  Because of the very complex nature of healthcare, occasionally things will go wrong, and our staff have to feel confident in reporting issues, raising concerns and knowing they will be acted upon when they do.

Patients place great faith in us and in return we have a duty to be honest about every aspect of their care. We are already committed to the new 'duty of candour', expected of every NHS hospital from April. We let patients know if their safety has been compromised, ensure lessons have been learnt and actions are taken to ensure the same mistakes are not repeated.  When mistakes do occur we publish details in our public board papers

We'll be taking time to read the report to understand what other actions we should be taking to build a stronger culture of safety, openness, accountability and compassion, in light of what the inquiry has found. 

Translate this page: