The Francis report is the result of a huge public enquiry into hospital practice within the NHS, which follows the unearthing of a series of serious failings at Stafford Hospital.
Around 300 deaths were investigated as being potentially caused by neglect. One of the most striking cases was of Gillian Astbury, a diabetic patient who had not received routine diabetes care which would have kept her alive.
The Francis report is a 1,782 page report into the Mid-Staffordshire Trust scandal overseen by Robert Francis QC. The report, which has cost £13 million to compile, includes 290 recommendations. Of these recommendations, Ministers have accepted 281 of them.
Amongst the many recommendations are the following:
Wilful neglect will be an offence that could lead to imprisonment for up to five years
Senior managers that have failed can be blacklisted from taking up future NHS posts
Each patient should be given a named nurse or consultant that will have overall responsibility for their care, and the name should be displayed above the patient’s bed
Hospitals must put posters informing patients and their families of how they may raise a complaint
The report will have interest for people with diabetes, particularly as one of the worst cases of neglect involved a patient with diabetes on insulin. Members of the diabetic community have discussed, on the Diabetes Forum, difficulties they have experienced with diabetes care in hospital, including problems with insulin dosing errors and a poor standard of blood glucose monitoring being some of the more common issues.
Health campaigners have expressed dissatisfaction that failings in duty of candour, of being open and honest, for individuals will not be given legal status but instead will be enforced by professional bodies. Disappointment has also been expressed that whistleblowers, members of staff who stand up to raise issues or failings, have not been offered stronger protection for doing so.
The introduction of neglect as a criminal offence should serve as a notable deterrent but it will remain to be seen how well this and other recommendations of the Francis report will ultimately be upheld.