Mr Hunt is a breath of fresh air at the Department for Health. As a strong believer in the NHS, he wishes to raise the quality of the service and support high professional standards throughout our hospitals and surgeries. He has been shocked by reports of poor treatment and lack of care in some wards and some hospitals, and is seeking ways to ensure patients do not suffer in future as some have in the past from hospital infections, lack of food and water, or bad medical interventions.
The Secretary of State has decided the best way forward is to encourage and require honest reporting of incidents. Hospitals which fail patients need to record and report the problem, and then make sure it does not happen again. In the private sector many companies use quality systems which seek to design out any error in their process or performance. When someone reports an accident or mistake, the first issue is how do you put right what has immediately gone wrong, and the second is how do you redesign the process so it cannot happen in future. The main purpose of reporting is to improve, not to have a witch hunt over who made the mistake.
There are many parts of the patient expereience in some of our hospitals that needs improving. Do they control the drug round properly? Is eveything logged so the right medicine in the right dose is always offered? Is there a fail safe system to prevent the dispensation of the wrong mediicine, or the wrong quantity or at the wrong time? Do they control hospital stocks and supplies effectively, to ensure lower costs and shorter periods holding the items so they are fresher for use? Are staff used to best effect? How easy is it to transfer staff from less busy to busy wards or periods of the day? Are the staff effectively led and do they understand what good quality service looks like? Who checks that patients have the water and food they need? Who is responsible for ensuring reasonable patient requests are responded to promptly?
Shining a light onto poor performance is a necessary part of improvement. I would be interested in your obsaervations on the successes and weaknesses of our hospitals.