Francis report demands statutory 'duty of candour' for GPs

GPs and other healthcare providers should face a statutory 'duty of candour' to report cases in which care has led to death or serious harm to a patient, the Francis report advises.

Robert Francis QC: chaired Mid Staffs public inquiry
Robert Francis QC: chaired Mid Staffs public inquiry

The report on the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust public inquiry, chaired by Robert Francis QC, says that 'GPs need to undertake a monitoring role on behalf of their patients who receive acute hospital and other specialist services'.

The 1,919-page report adds that GPs should be 'an independent, professionally qualified check on the quality of service, in particular in relation to an assessment of outcomes'.

Practices should have internal systems that enable them to keep track of 'patterns of concern' with health services.

'They have a responsibility to all patients to keep themselves informed of the standard of service available at various providers in order to make patients' choice a reality,' the report adds.

The report urges the NHS to resist the 'temptation of offering up scapegoats'. Although local GPs did not express 'substantive concerns' about services in Mid Staffordshire until 'it had become obvious there were issues and when they were specifically asked'.

But it says scapegoating any specific group would be wrong. 'To do this would be to create the fiction that the behaviour of one person, or a small group of people, would have made all the difference and conclude that the easy answer to the problem is to appoint better performing individuals. It was not a single rogue healthcare professional who delivered poor care in Stafford, or a single manager who ignored patient safety,' the report says.

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