Francis report will be used to impose mass hospital closures

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NHS staff should face prosecution if they are not open and honest about mistakes, according to the public inquiry into failings at Stafford Hospital.

In fact, both the current and last government should be prosecuted for keeping David Nicholson in office and promoting him to be boss of the NHS after his drive to a Foundation Trust produced the Staffordshire NHS disaster, and was then followed with his £20bn of NHS cuts.

Cameron yesterday announced that a new post of chief inspector of hospitals would be created in the autumn. He is to act in the same way as the coalition is acting over schools, that is closing ‘failed’ schools, or handing them over to the private sector, or to private sector management.

The Francis inquiry recommended:

• Senior managers to be given a code of conduct

• Hiding information about poor care to become a criminal offence, as would failing to adhere to basic standards that lead to death or serious harm

• A statutory obligation on doctors and nurses for a duty of candour so they are open with patients about mistakes

• An increased focus on compassion in the recruitment, training and education of nurses, including an aptitude test for new recruits and regular checks of competence as is being rolled out for doctors.

The inquiry concluded that the failings at the hospital went from the top to the bottom of the NHS.

The chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, Dr Peter Carter, described it as a ‘powerful and monumental’ report.

‘Appaling care cannot be tolerated and everything should be done to ensure that it does not happen again.’

Commenting on the Francis Report, Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: ‘The recommendation to introduce a new duty of candour is an excellent suggestion.’

NHS boss David Nicholson should resign over Mid Staffs, says Unite, since he has ‘thrown down the so-called Nicholson challenge of £20bn cuts’. . . and ‘he was the regional NHS official who had the oversight of Mid Staffs when the clinical failures were taking place. Later, as an NHS chief executive, he had accountability as to how the NHS responded as the scandal unfolded.’

Nicholson may well be sacked, but it is a fact that the £20bn of NHS cuts will continue to be implemented, as will the programme to shut down scores of District General Hospitals that is also now being implemented, as is the programme to hand over the the bulk of the NHS budget to Commissioners who will hand it over to the private sector.

The hundreds of deaths at Mid Staffordshire were organised under the last Labour government when it organised the drive to turn hospitals into Foundation Trusts, independent businesses, which they had to be free of debt to achieve.

Today the NHS is being shut down. District general Hospitals like Chase Farm and Lewisham are to be closed, while cabinet ministers insist that shutting down hospitals like Lewisham will be saving lives – obvious nonsense.

What Francis has produced is the basis of a self-fulfiling prophesy. The NHS is to be starved of cash. Large numbers of hospitals are to be closed. Even now, staff are being sacked.

The crisis of the NHS is being deepened, and staff will be abused and even jailed when under these conditions care deteriorates. They will be made scapegoats for government policy. Rather like parents who cannot feed their children properly because they have no jobs and their benefits have been cut, being jailed for chronic neglect, when it is the government that should be behind bars.

In fact, at the same time as the NHS has been, and is still being starved, over a trillion has been spent propping up banks, and hundreds of millions more will be spent paying their Libor Rate fines.

There is only one way to defend the NHS. Workers must take action to defend it. The trade union leaders must be made to call a general strike to bring down the coalition and bring in a workers government.