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GMB On Response To Francis Report

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Staffing Levels And The Mix Of Workforce Skills Are The Key To Ensuring Care Is At The Level Patients Expect And Deserve Says GMB

Exclusive focus on nursing numbers may repeat the target-driven mistakes of the past as staffs on the bottom four pay bands are responsible for 60% of contact with patients contact says GMB

GMB, the union for staff in the NHS, commented on the Government’s final response to the Robert Francis QC report.

Rehana Azam, GMB National Officer for the NHS, said “GMB is disappointed the Government has ducked out of implementing all the recommendations of the Francis report.

GMB welcomed the thorough and detailed report by Robert Francis QC, and called for full implementation of his recommendations. GMB pledged to do all we can to help implement changes which will improve care for patients and make sure the horrendous failings that were seen at Mid-Staffs are stamped out of the NHS.

GMB welcome changes Government has announced today that will lead to a better patient experience.

A legal duty of candour will potentially have a big impact, requiring the NHS to be honest when mistakes are made. This needs a culture change, in particular among NHS management, and the legal duty is strong enough to make this happen. We already know that good staff engagement and good people management deliver better patient outcomes but we have some way to go to create a climate where staff can confidently raise their concerns constructively.

GMB considers that staffing levels and the mix of workforce skills are the key to ensuring care is at the level patients expect and deserve. GMB has been making the point loud and clear at every opportunity – NHS staff do a fantastic job but can only provide a first class service when and if they have the time, skills and resources to do so. It’s obvious from the Government’s response, and their call for staffing reviews & numbers to be published, that they realise there is a serious problem with staffing in our hospitals and other parts of the NHS.

By failing to set legal minimum staffing requirements, the Government have ducked the opportunity to give patients a cast-iron guarantee they will be looked after in properly staffed hospitals. Francis said minimum staffing levels should be adopted; the Government’s own nursing advisors recommend minimum staffing laws; but the Government is too focused on their cuts agenda to do what’s right for patients and for the NHS. Instead they are now going to saddle hospitals with further targets and then attack them for not delivering when wards falls short of safe staffing levels

It’s also disappointing the Government has restricted the staffing reviews to nursing staff. You can’t run a hospital with nurses alone. Staffs on the bottom four pay bands in the NHS are responsible for 60% of contact with patients contact. GMB are concerned that this exclusive focus on nursing numbers will repeat the target-driven mistakes of the past

Modern health services employ many different types of worker, and it’s well recognised that one of the key drivers of better care is getting that staffing mix right. We will be carefully monitoring Trusts to make sure they keep a balanced staffing mix.

Whilst I cautiously welcome the new transparency requirements, the reality is that under this government we have seen the numbers of NHS staff delivering frontline care dropping.

A better place to start is for the government to recognise that the funding settlement for the NHS is falling short of what the public needs to help deliver a better patient experience. It is unacceptable money is being returned to Treasury by the NHS as any savings should be reinvested to protect frontline line jobs and services.

Government cuts to the NHS mean staffing problems will get worse, not better. If NHS trusts can’t afford to maintain proper staffing levels this response by the Government is just lip-service.

The effectiveness of the staffing reviews is also highly questionable given the financial troubles so many Trusts are in, as a result of the Governments cuts. Publishing staffing information is all very well, but given the £20billion being taken out of the NHS, and A&E services reaching breaking point, it’s hard to see how NHS Trusts will be able to get staffing levels where they should be.

GMB members on the frontline know the damage the Government’s policies of privatisation, fragmentation and cuts are having on the NHS - for example there are serious warning signs that our A&E services are in crisis, and facing meltdown in the busy winter period - which this response does nothing to address. GMB will do everything we can to help implement the Francis recommendations. However GMB knows this Government cannot be trusted with the NHS, and the union will continue to fight to protect it.


Contact Rehana Azam GMB National Officer 07841 181656 or 0208 947 3131 or Paul Clarke GMB National Organiser 07713077193

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