Stafford Hospital: Welsh health minister promises lessons will be learnt

Lesley Griffiths said everything had to be done to ensure 'that level of systemic failing" does not happen in Wales

Health Minister Lesley Griffiths has promised that lessons will be learnt in Wales from the inquiry into "appalling" neglect at Stafford Hospital.

She said "everything had to be done to make sure that level of systemic failing" does not happen in Wales.

The minister accepted that "we cannot be complacent" adding most of the care provided in the Welsh NHS was excellent.

The inquiry found that failings went right to the top of the health service.

It highlighted the treatment of hundreds of patients between 2005 and 2008. Five other hospitals in England are to be investigated.

Giving her detailed response, Ms Griffiths said: "We have to do everything we can to make sure that that level of systemic failing does not happen in Wales and I believe we have the building blocks in place to ensure that doesn't happen."

'Major discussion'

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I want to assure the people of Wales that we do have the building blocks in place”

End Quote Lesley Griffiths AM Health Minister

The minister said the report had to be considered in much more detail but she denied Wales was being cautious in its response.

"There are nearly 300 recommendations and as you can appreciate we need to look at them in much more detail. My officials have started that.

"Certainly I'll be having discussions with my chairs. The next meeting I have I will ensure will will have a major discussion about the Francis report."

She said since she has been health minister she has said she wanted patients to be at the centre and a lot of initiatives were supporting that.

She also said that she has just had a review of community health councils and would look into strengthening their role.

'Put first'

Her pledge to patients was that she did not want to see a systemic failure like the one in Stafford.

"I want to assure the people of Wales that we do have the building blocks in place," she said.

"We do have an integrated system in Wales that they don't have in England. But we will obviously have to learn lessons."

Janet Howell from Cardiff had complaints about care for her husband in his final days

Earlier the inquiry lawyer Peter Watkin Jones said attitudes at all levels in the NHS have to change so that patients' interest are put first to ensure the scandal is never repeated.

He told BBC Radio Wales: "I think it is complacency to say 'You know what our system in Wales is different to England so this doesn't impact upon us.

"This is all about people, not about regulatory organisations being different.

"The people involved in the NHS are required, if this report is implemented, to change their ways.

Criminal offence

"To be open, to be accountable for what they do. to not turn the other way. That is what was frightening in Stafford is how many people were prepared to look the other way."

He said the change has to be from top to bottom and it applies to the NHS in Wales equally.

"If there's bad care in the system, people are entitled to know. And if people are keeping things under wraps and its a criminal offence, then that will apply in Wales just as much as in England.

"And therefore to say, you know what in Wales we're protected from this, we're cushioned from it, simply isn't going to be an acceptable approach if you want to change culture top to bottom."

Cathy O'Sullivan, chief officer of Aneurin Bevan Community Health Council, speaking on BBC Radio Wales, rejected a suggestion of introducing a chief inspector of hospitals, saying close monitoring of the NHS in Wales was already in place.

Banding hospitals

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The more information you can give patients the better and I would not have a problem with that. ”

End Quote Cathy O'Sullivan Aneurin Bevan Community Health Council

"What's really required is is a level of independence in reviewing the NHS and working with the organisations very closely to ensure that actually all of that's information is gathered together.

"That's already happening in Wales and I don't know that an individual inspector for the NHS in Wales would make much difference to that," Ms O'Sullivan said.

However, she was also asked whether a rating system of banding hospitals in Wales, similar to schools, would help.

Ms O'Sullivan said: "The more information you can give patients the better and I would not have a problem with that.

"The whole purpose of keeping the patient in the middle, focussing on the patient is to be open and transparent and be candid about what's actually going on in health care services."

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