SHADOW health secretary Andy Burnham has welcomed much of today’s Government response to the Francis Report but says it falls short of what was promised.
“Stafford was a betrayal of all the NHS stands for and apologies have rightly been made,” said Mr Burnham. “But now is the time to act and make this a moment of change.
“Whilst we welcome much of what the Health Secretary has said today, it falls short of the full response to the Francis Report that the Prime Minister promised last month.”
Mr Burnham said Robert Francis made a very clear case for a new system of regulation of healthcare assistants to improve basic standards.
“Yet this didn’t feature in today’s response,” he said. “Labour supports moves to rebalance nurse training to include more hands-on experience, but safe staffing is the glaring omission today.
“We will never get the right culture on our wards if they are understaffed and over-stretched.”
“Things are already going in the wrong direction - the Care Quality Commission has recently reported that 1 in 10 hospitals in England do not have adequate staffing levels and just last week figures showed that there had been a reduction of 843 nurses between November and December last year.”
“It is difficult for the NHS to deliver the standard of care that we all expect when there are now 5,000 fewer nurses.
“In last week’s Budget, the Department of Health handed £2.2bn from the NHS budget back to the Treasury - surely that money would have been better invested in the front-line and bringing all hospitals in England back up to safe staffing levels.”
Speaking prior to the anouncement Labour party parliamentary candidate for Stafford Kate Godfrey said: “We need an NHS system which is designed to support nurses to deliver the high standard of care that they want to deliver, and which stops the kind of failures seen in Stafford hospital from ever happening again.
“The answer is to integrate health and social care – freeing up beds and nurse time for patients,” she said. “But you can’t look after patients without a local hospital left in which to do it.
“The Tories think the answer is cutting the NHS, taking services away from local people.
“That doesn’t help anybody,” he said. “It’s time they started looking after Stafford hospital, or were honest about which services they’ll be taking away.”