New NHS Chief Meets Nurses

The New Head Of The NHS Has Met With Patient Safety Campaigners And Whistleblowing Nurses

09.04.2014

The new head of the NHS, Simon Stevens, has met with high-powered nurses in an attempt to improve relations upon his arrival at the NHS.

On the second day of taking his new job, Mr Stevens met with Robert Francis, author of the critical Francis Report, which outlined that the NHS needed a cultural shift after the Mid Staffordshire scandal, reports the Nursing Times.

Part of this meet and greet involved getting to know high-powered nurses, including Helene Donnelly, former A&E nurse at Stafford Hospital, who now works as an ambassador for improving relations between healthcare professionals and NHS executives.

Experts have welcomed Mr Stevens' decision to meet nurses on his second day, which some believe indicates he will prioritise improving patient care and look to reduce the issues seen at crisis-hit hospitals like those in Colchester and Dagenham.

A spokesperson at the NHS did not disclose what Mr Stevens discussed on his first visit as head of the organisation, but sources at the Nursing Times believe it revolved around improving a culture of transparency that would serve to improve the lives of both patients and staff.

Senior nurses across the NHS have sought to ensure that increased transparency is a priority for the government, as many believe that cuts to budgets and hospital closures are harming trust levels of patients.

Whistleblowing is a large part of this, and secretary of state for health Jeremy Hunt has been keen to improve the utilities available to nurses and doctors that want to disclose worrying behaviour or habits among colleagues.

Earlier this year it was announced that NHS staff will get whistleblowing lessons from Ms Donnelly, as it attempts to dispel concerns among some that the practice amounts to "grassing up" friends.

Speaking at the time, Ms Donnelly said: "We must truly empower and support all NHS staff to raise concerns, and part of this is about ensuring they know how to do so and what to do if their concerns are ignored.

"That's why I'm delighted to be working on new mandatory training about whistleblowing, so that all staff will know what to do if they see care slip below the high standards we would all expect."

Expert Opinion
We have long called for reform of the culture of the NHS to promote openness and transparency to prevent a repeat of the failings identified within the Francis Report into Stafford Hospital.

“We hope that Mr Stevens’ meeting with senior nurses means he will work to ensure staff at all levels throughout the health service adopt these reforms and are instilled with the confidence and tools for whistleblowing when necessary.

“This will ensure any failings in patient care are investigated thoroughly and the lessons learned can be shared throughout the NHS to protect future patient safety and improve standards of practice throughout.”
Lisa Jordan, Partner