CQC Attacks NHS' Culture

Care Quality Commission Chief David Prior Believes A Culture Change Is Required To Improve The NHS


The NHS in England needs to improve the culture that currently exists within the service.

This is according to Care Quality Commission chairman David Prior, who believes serious change is required if the standard of care offered is going to be improved.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, he said a rift between managers and clinicians is threatening to ruin all of the hard work over the years of making the universal healthcare system truly brilliant.

Mr Prior is particularly worried by the fact the NHS now "stigmatises and ostracises those who raise concerns or complaints", instead of supporting them for being brave enough to come forward in the first place.

"Too often, it delights in the ritual humiliation of those deemed to fail, tolerates and institutionalises outdated working practices and old-fashioned hierarchies, and can almost encourage managers and clinicians to occupy opposing camps," he stated.

After studying the US healthcare system to see if lessons can be learned, the expert believes the best organisations are those that are "open, trusting and, above all, constantly learning". Whereas information is sometimes suppressed in order to prevent a scandal from breaking out in the UK, mistakes and complaints are viewed as an opportunity to improve in the US.

This is why Mr Prior believes there is no substitute for "visible, brave leadership" and he thinks the UK can learn from the US, where hospital chiefs are often in the top positions for a long time, rather than being constantly shuffled around to fight fires.

He would also like to see the establishment of larger centres of excellence in order to offer the right quality of services 24/7. If the current situation is allowed to continue, Mr Prior thinks the NHS will offer poor care.

This is why he is calling for a change of culture to encourage a more open and transparent organisation that can learn from its mistakes.

Expert Opinion
The past couple of years have been immensely difficult for the NHS, with problems such as the scandal related to Mid-Staffordshire being very much in the spotlight. However, the only way the organisation is going to move on is by learning lessons from the problems of the past.

"Transparency and openness are already being embraced by the organisation and this must continue to ensure patients are able to make informed decisions about treatment and care. Collecting data will not only identify high standards, but also parts of the NHS where improvements can be made.

"Such information can only lead to improvements in patient safety – an issue which should always be the top priority of those working healthcare, regardless of their position or role."
Lisa Jordan, Partner