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Editor’s blog Wednsday 9 June 2010: Francis Inquiry 2, bullying addressed, targets under fire and more hints on Lansleyism

The new DH press release reports Health Secretary Andrew Lansley CBE MP's keeping his promise, made in opposition, to grant a public inquiry into the events of Mid-Staffs. Its terms of reference are here.

"The Inquiry, to be chaired by Robert Francis QC, will have the full statutory force of the Public Inquiries Act 2005 including the power to compel witnesses to attend and speak under oath.  It will seek to expose how events at the Trust went undetected and unchallenged for so long by the wider regulatory and supervisory bodies responsible for monitoring the performance of the Trust.

"The Health Secretary announced immediate plans to tackle the culture of secrecy, fear and bullying among staff at the hospital identified by previous inquiries, setting out new measures to strengthen protection for NHS staff who whistle blow.   The measures will both encourage staff to raise concerns and ensure that they are listened to when they do and include:
- reinforcing rights and responsibilities for staff and employers in the NHS Constitution;
- issuing new guidance to the NHS stating that contracts of employment should cover whistle blowing; and
- supporting staff that raise concerns.

"The Health Secretary also announced that over the coming weeks he will set out further plans to reform the NHS, addressing issues at the very heart of problems at Mid-Staffordshire including:
- Scrapping targets without clinical justification – so staff focus on what matters to patients and not on centrally dictated processes;
- Publishing detailed data about the performance of healthcare providers - so people can compare services and exercise their choice;
- Giving patients the power to rate hospitals and doctors – giving patients a voice so they can hold these services to account; and
- Developing a more effective regulatory and inspection system".  

So, we will find out whether waiting time guarantees, given some debatable authority under the NHS Constitution, will be deemed "clinically justified". Labour will scent blood on this one.

We have had the announcement on publishing more data, repeated and expanded in yesterday's speech.

Rating healthcare providers is already possible for the public: see NHS Choices, IWantGreatCare and Patient Opinion.

We await the government's thoughts on regulation and inspection with interest. Although if the Con-Lib Coalition seriously want to save money, they should consider abolishing national regulation and paying somebody to read the local papers. After all, they had the story at Mid-Staffs.