David Prior attacks culture of the NHS

In an article for the Telegraph, the Chairman of the Care Quality Commission, David Prior, has warned of an “alarming”culture within the NHS.  He states “parts of the NHS have developed a culture that doesn’t listen – or worse, that stigmatises and ostracises those who raise concerns or complaints.”

While recognising that a lot of good work is carried out by NHS staff, he expressed his shock at certain practices within the NHS, some of which were revealed by the Mid-Staffs public inquiry.  He said “I am often overwhelmed by the kindness, care and skills of its staff – and yet am too often shocked by some of the behaviour I see.”

He compared the NHS to US healthcare organisations highlighting that there are powerful lessons to be learnt from how these organisations operate.  In commenting on some of the best organisations in the US he stated “mistakes and complaints are sources of improvement, not retribution.  High reporting levels of error, and near-misses need to be seen as a sign of good practice, not a badge of shame.”  He suggested that the NHS should adopt similar values and abolish the culture in which staff are ostracised for speaking out and pressurised into falsifying records to meet targets.

Mr Prior called for a major restructuring of healthcare provision and said “without serious change, the NHS will deliver poor care, and ultimately go bust.”  To make such changes he recognised that the relationship between NHS staff and management requires radical change.  He added that “clinicians need to take a leading role in changing the culture of the NHS.”

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