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Editor's blog Friday 28 August 2009: Claire Rayner on the need for more NHS regulation

I once chaired a conference at which Claire Rayner spoke about patient dignity. She's a lovely woman, and a bit of a national treasure, so it pains me to point out that her article on the Guardian website following up yesterday's Patients' Association report (of which she is President) is a bit silly.

Claire complains that there is a "light touch approach to regulating our hospitals". This is, to put it mildly, rubbish. NHS regulation is far from perfect, as Mid-Staffordshire events showed, but its touch is not light. Ineffective, perhaps, but that is not the same thing.

Bad and uncaring work is not done in a vacuum: it happens in a context. Regulation is a part of setting appropriate contexts to minimise the likelihood of such behaviour to the lowest possible level, but it is not the only one.

Claire has been a good advocate for patients, but her assertion on regulation undermines the sensible points she makes, and risks damaging the credibility of a considered report. It may be time for the Patients Association to thank her for her contribution, and then find a new figurehead more au fait with current events in the NHS.