The RCN responds to the Francis report

The RCN responds to the Francis report

The RCN today published its response to the Francis Inquiry into Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. The document outlines the RCN’s response to many of the 290 recommendations in the seminal report and sets out the work the RCN has already undertaken, and what it believes should be done next, to ensure the failings at Stafford Hospital are never repeated.

Read our Quick Briefing to the RCN's response here.

Key points in the RCN’s response include:

  • a call for mandatory safe staffing levels, based on local judgement and enshrined in law
  • support for the role of the “named nurse” as a mechanism to organise work around the needs of the patient rather than a series of tasks
  • a focus on the importance of strong nurse leadership and backing of increased educational opportunities for senior staff, with supervisory ward sisters free to lead and mentor nurses
  • a recognition that more must be done to improve the culture in the NHS and tackle the “care fatigue” experienced by some longer-serving health care staff
  • a push for mandatory training and regulation of health care assistants
  • support for the move towards values-based nurse recruitment
  • defence of the practical preparation of nursing students and rejection of the need for three months pre-degree care experience
  • calls for nationally recognised career pathways for those wishing to develop their skills in older people’s nursing and for everyone in nursing to understand how to deliver excellent care in this area.

Read our full response to the Francis report here.

Dr Peter Carter, RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary, said: “The Francis report is a watershed moment in the history of the NHS and the RCN’s response reflects this. After a full consultation with members on the recommendations, we have put together an evidence-based response which sets out a blueprint for change to put patients at the centre of the NHS.”

Dr Carter called for everyone to act on the lessons of the Francis report, saying: “We know that preventing the tragic events at Mid Staffordshire from happening anywhere else is the top priority of everyone involved in the health service, from ministers to managers to frontline staff. It is all of our responsibility to act together to ensure patients are at the very centre of the NHS.”

The RCN also responded to the recommendation that it should consider formally splitting its trade union function with its professional function. On this, Dr Carter said: “We discussed this with our members who told us the two functions complement rather than conflict with one another. They overwhelmingly expressed a desire to maintain the current structure. Our work as a trade union supports our work to drive up professional standards, and evidence shows that healthier work environments for nursing staff help improve patient care.”  

Read the Executive summary to our response here.