Authored article

Jeremy Hunt: message to NHS staff on transparent, safe healthcare

This speech was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Secretary of State for Health talks about new regulations for a more open and accountable healthcare system and the launch of MyNHS.

As part of our determination to make the NHS the safest and most transparent healthcare system in the world, I want to tell you about two new important regulations that came into force yesterday.

The first is the Statutory Duty of Candour, which places a legal duty on hospital, community and mental health trusts to inform patients of mistakes which have led to significant harm or death. This is a key response to Francis, and a significant step towards a more transparent and open NHS. At the same time, the General Medical Council and Nursing and Midwifery Council are consulting on a new Professional Duty of Candour which would mean that there would be an obligation on doctors, nurses and other health professionals to inform patients when something goes wrong. This is all designed to bring concerns into the open much more quickly, so that we develop a learning and improvement culture. I hope it will mean the NHS becomes the first healthcare system in the world that starts to get close to eliminating avoidable harm, including the 1,000 avoidable deaths we have every month across the system.

The second new power is about ensuring strong and safe leadership in healthcare organisations. Under new regulations, all NHS board members will be required to undergo a Fit and Proper Person’s Test before they are appointed. During its inspections, the Care Quality Commission will check that NHS Trusts have strong systems in place to ensure they are appointing the right people to hold these important roles. Importantly, the Care Quality Commission now has the power to remove directors who have overseen poor care. These tests will be extended to care homes in April 2015.

Finally another step towards creating a more transparent and accountable culture was the formal launch of MyNHS last week, a new part of the NHS Choices website that enables patients and professionals to compare the performance of hospitals, consultant services, GP practices, care services and local authority. MyNHS includes searchable data on staffing, patient safety, mental health and food quality, along with many other areas of care. Over time, more data will be added and MyNHS will become an increasingly powerful resource for patients, doctors and local NHS commissioners.

We should be proud that we are probably already the most transparent healthcare system in the world - this will take us even further. So thank you for the part you are playing to make it possible.

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