By Debbie le Quesne

The Francis report – what will this mean to social care?

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Today sees the publication of the long-awaited Francis report on what went wrong at Mid Staffordshire Hospital.

The media has been awash with headlines emerging from the inquiry. Stories have been harrowing and it’s shameful that such a catalogue of failings occurred.

Patients, families and public have been catastrophically let down in many ways and no doubt the report will address those issues.

 I’m interested particularly in what the wider implications will be for social care. I don’t want to second-guess the outcomes, but there have been some indicators along the way that a robust response will also feel the collar of poorly performing care homes.

In an article for the Sunday Telegraph, health secretary Jeremy Hunt was reported as saying: “Nor is it just a problem in hospitals, with equally shocking failings happening at certain care homes too.”

You can bet care home performance and monitoring will be mentioned.

As far back as last October, shadow care minister Liz Kendall, said “there are likely to be further changes in the way health and social care are regulated following the inquiry findings.

I’m obliged to add here that excellent services are to be found in care settings, but there are some operations that sully the image of private care. And it’s the problem causing agents of these issues which will be in the sights of the Robert Francis findings.

Inadequate training, poor management, failing systems, underfunding, bad leadership and bad communication are at the root of most private sector failures. I’m not prone to gamble but I’d happily bet on any number of these issues being flagged up for both NHS and private sector scrutiny.

We know we are already focused on the key elements that make a good care home or efficient dom-care service. My worry is that because the hospital evidence has been so awful, politicians will be obliged to respond with vigour – and rightly so.

However, I’m convinced they will seize the opportunity to tighten the monitoring grip on the private sector too in a ‘belt and bracers’ approach.

I can only hope sense has prevailed regarding the impact on our members.


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