The Francis Report into Mid Staffordshire hospital trust will be published at 11.30am today. David Cameron will make a Commons statement this afternoon on the matter.
Yesterday I explained why Cameron should be bold today and go beyond the usual ‘lessons must be learned, procedures should be tightened’ platitudes. One of the greatest risks is that the government ends up introducing more targets and more bureaucracy with simply replace or even add to burden created by Labour which the Report will criticise today.
But as Iain Martin points out, the Mid-Staffs failure took place following huge increases in NHS spending. This isn’t a death-by-cuts story. Targets and a lack of scrutiny might be one problem, but now is also the time to stop being squeamish about systemic reforms which will tackle complacency in the NHS. The Health service still operates with a blitz-style be-thankful-for-what-you-get spirit when, as our leading article argued, independent providers do not have that luxury. Cameron wants to talk about the culture of care today, but will he talk about the structure of care as well?
It would be much easier to avoid these bigger issues and simply appoint new chief inspectors and set out new duties to report poor care. Those will help tighten procedures. But now, as Labour finds itself having to keep quiet for a little while at least about being the ‘party of the NHS’, is the time to talk about the big lessons that need learning about public and private providers, too.