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RCS comments on government response to Francis report

19 November 2013

Commenting on the government response to Francis report, Professor Norman Williams, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, said:

‘Patient safety is at the heart of all we do. I am pleased to be invited with David Dalton to lead an important piece of work looking at implementing an institutional duty of candour as we know that trust and openness with patients is essential to good healthcare.    Raising concerns early, before they become a serious patient safety issue, combined with fostering a strong relationship between clinicians and managers is vital to improving patient care. Individually, surgeons already have a professional duty of candour set out by the General Medical Council. Any updated guidance must not dissuade reporting of any kind, deter clinicians from undertaking complex medical cases, or discourage innovation. We await further details.

‘All too often, preventable mistakes are still happening in hospitals.As a profession we are determined to eradicate ‘never events’ and we are working with patients and the NHS to learn from what has happened in the past in order to prevent errors being made in the future. We believe never should mean never and avoiding such errors should be the priority of every healthcare professional.

‘It is important for patients to know that a named consultant is in direct charge of their care, familiar with their case, and is their point of contact in case of any queries or concerns. The name of a responsible consultant above every hospital bed is a positive move for patients and should be implemented as soon as possible.

‘Since the publication of the Francis report we have been actively working with the regulators, the CQC and GMC to provide independent expert advice on quality assurance of NHS services. Our Invited Review Mechanism, a service the College provides to a Trust that wants independent advice on any surgical concerns has been significantly strengthened and we continue to engage our Patient Liaison Group across all of our work and are currently working with them on initiatives to improve patient safety.’

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