The Liberal Democrat member of the Health Select Committee, Andrew George MP, warned Government Ministers today to focus on safe staffing levels on hospital wards when preparing their response to the anticipated Mid Staffordshire Hospital Inquiry report. Responding to the Health Secretary’s comments in the weekend press, Mr George said he wanted his Select Committee to look at both concerns about safe staffing of hospital wards and the culture of intimidation and denial which has discouraged responsible nurses and other clinicians from raising professional concerns about safe staff levels.
Mr George said, “When frontline staff warn managers about staffing levels on hospital wards, they should not be ignored, either by senior managers or by politicians.
“The previous Government were warned that obsession with political and financial targets were distorting clinical judgement. The ‘culture of bullying’ in the NHS, identified by others, has meant that whistleblowers have been ignored to the detriment of patient care.
“As desperate attempts are being made to shift the blame prior to the publication of the Francis report, it’s important that staffing levels are considered. It’s now fashionable for media commentators and some politicians to blame nurses for having an attitude problem. But this is creating a smokescreen which is masking the root cause of the problem in many hospital settings – i.e. low and unsafe staffing levels.”
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