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RCOG statement on the findings of the final report of the Francis Inquiry

News 6 February 2013

The final report of the Francis Inquiry into Mid Staffordshire Trust is published today. We must accept that there were issues within the Trust that led to poor clinical and professional standards and these impacted tragically on patient outcomes. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) is very sorry for the distress and suffering endured by so many patients and their families, poignantly described in the report.

The RCOG believes that the medical profession, along with other healthcare professionals, must accept responsibility for its shortcomings and move forward with the recommendations from the report.

The RCOG has developed a raft of initiatives which will improve quality and standards when implemented. These include its clinical guideline programme and clinical outcomes project in maternity services.

A culture of openness and transparency on the NHS is needed so that issues can be identified, acted upon and lessons learned. It is incumbent upon all healthcare professionals to report any potential problems so that patient safety is upheld. They must be supported by the NHS and not victimised for reporting on poor care.

RCOG President Dr Tony Falconer said, “The tragedy that unfolded at Mid Staffordshire Trust pointed to operational issues which must not be repeated in the NHS.

“This report comes at a crucial moment in the present NHS reform programme and the recommendations will be very useful to improving patient safety and care. We will be writing to our members to inform them about the review and the College’s response.

“At this time of major change in the NHS, we welcome the high priority being given to quality and improved outcomes for patients. It is vital that NHS trusts are not blinded by the need to make efficiency savings, at the expense of clinical quality and judgement.

“We are very pleased that the Government is setting up strategic clinical networks in maternity and children’s health and are appointing a National Clinical Director in women’s health. These new developments will enable the right structures to be put in place so that women get the sexual and reproductive health services they need.

“The RCOG will do its part to ensure that its members are aware of the requirements for GMC revalidation and are supported. The focus on tailoring CPD to the individual clinical responsibilities of each specialist, as recommended in Tomorrow’s Specialist, will ensure that doctors continue to combine the benefits of experiential learning with evidence to improve quality of care.

“We must support our doctors by emphasising the critical aspects of professionalism with knowledge acquisition and develop mentoring schemes so that they can carry out their duties to the best of their abilities.”