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Posted on 13th February 2017

NHS could be headed towards another scandal

The rift between the government and NHS bosses could lead to a repeat of the Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal.

Sir Robert Francis, QC, led the public inquiry into the Mid Staffordshire Trust’s failings, which saw the trust shut down.

He said that the government couldn’t continue to pretend that the health service was coping.

Along with public confidence at the risk of collapsing, the continuing pressure for the NHS to cut costs would, he said, inevitably lead to the neglect of patients.

Sir Robert has dismissed the savings plans put forward by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt as unrealistic.

With waiting times in A&E at record highs and targets being missed on surgery, ambulance response time and cancer care, Sir Robert said that the NHS was manifestly failing. 

Jeremy Hunt, described waits of up to 13 hours seen in parts of the country as “totally unacceptable”. He added that there were “no excuses” for cases where lack of social care places left elderly patients stuck in hospital for months.

In the interview, published on Friday 10 February, he said: “Let’s make no bones about it, the NHS is facing an existential crisis . . . The service is running faster and faster to try and keep up and is failing, manifestly failing. The danger is that we reach a tipping point, we haven’t reached it yet, but there will come a point where public confidence in the service dissipates.  

Sir Robert’s inquiry into the suffering caused to hundreds of patients at Stafford Hospital concluded that bosses were obsessed with cutting costs and hitting government targets at the expense of care. Published four years ago, the report highlighted one of the biggest scandals in the history of the NHS. 

Asked if the same mistakes that led to the Stafford hospital scandal could happen again, Sir Robert said: “I think it is inevitable.” 

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