Government's Mid Staffs response: At a glance

Ministers have set out their response to the final report of the public inquiry into the Stafford Hospital scandal.

They considered the 290 recommendations in the report. So what action are they taking?

Culture of honesty

The NHS will now have a legal duty to tell the truth. This "duty of candour" announced by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt requires hospitals to be honest with families when errors are made. It should mean there are no more cover-ups. Mr Hunt said he wanted to embed a culture of "zero harm and compassionate care" throughout the NHS. Mr Hunt said the onus would be on hospital boards, but that consideration was being given to making individual doctors and nurses criminally responsible for covering up errors.

Years of abuse and neglect at the hospital led to the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of patients. While it is well-known the trust management ignored patients' complaints, local GPs and MPs also failed to speak up for them, the inquiry said.

More compassion

As part of a pilot scheme, nurses will have to spend a year working as support workers and healthcare assistants before taking a degree, in order to better understand the caring role of frontline staff. While in this role, they will do basic tasks such as washing and feeding patients.

It comes after the inquiry said there needed to be more compassion in providing care. At Mid Staffordshire, some patients were left lying in their own urine and excrement for days, forced to drink water from vases.

Staff training

As well as ensuring nurses complete certain duties during their training, the role of healthcare assistants has also come under scrutiny by ministers. There will be a code of conduct and minimum training standards for healthcare assistants, but not full registration scheme as recommended by the inquiry.

Regulation and inspections

A new Chief Inspector of Hospitals (or whistleblower-in-chief) would be able to name and shame poorly performing trusts to the regulator - the Care Quality Commission. The CQC, having identified and verified any problems, will pass the baton on to another regulator, called Monitor, who will be tasked to make sure trusts tackle failures in care.

If trusts do not deliver adequate care to patients they could be put into a "failure regime" and may ultimately be put into administration.

Ratings

Mr Hunt confirmed that hospitals would be subject to Ofsted-style ratings similar to those used in schools. Hospitals and care homes will be rated as "outstanding", "good", "requiring improvement" or "poor". Individual hospital departments would be rated separately, with the hospital given an overall score.

Management

As well as naming and shaming failing hospitals, Mr Hunt said managers responsible for failures will be barred from working in the health service.

He said the government wants to introduce a barring system to ensure that "there is a mechanism in place which prevents unsuitable board level executives and non-executives from moving to new senior positions elsewhere in the system".

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