Timely enquiry into Virtues and Values in the Professions
The Public Inquiry into failings in care at Mid Staffordshire Foundation NHS trust published its report on Wednesday 6 February 2013. Together with his earlier Report in 2010, it is an account “first and foremost of appalling suffering of many patients”. In his report, Robert Francis QC draws attention to a number of dimensions of concern, including:
- aspects of the culture of the Trust;
- standards and methods of compliance;
- poor communication; and
- the effects of repeated NHS reorganisations
Francis’s explanation of the Trust’s failings is complex. It involves many systemic factors and does not put the blame on particular individuals. These factors resulted in a culture which failed to put the patient first and, worse, led to staff treating patients and their families with “callous indifference” (executive summary, p. 13) and, in comments reported in the press, that “there was a lack of care, compassion, humanity and leadership” at the Trust. (The Independent, 7 February 2013) These comments raise critically important questions concerning the relationship between the professional responsibilities and personal behaviour of individuals, the culture of organisations and the quality of service that such organisations provide. In this light, the attempt to examine some of these issues in the Jubilee Centre’s research project on Virtues and Values in the Professions is timely.