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Trust chairs believe there are other Mid Staffs-type failures

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Most hospital and mental health provider chairs believe there are “a small number” of trusts failing in a similar way to Mid Staffordshire, a survey by LGC’s sister title Health Service Journal has found.

Health reporting HSJ and LGC logo

On the 60 chairs who responded, 73.7% said they believed there were “a small number” of organisations with the same scale of problems as the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, which was at the centre of a national scandal in which poor care led to a reported 1,200 unnecessary deaths.

Four per cent of respondents believed there were “many trusts” in that position.

Only 5% of respondents to the HSJ/Odgers Berndtson survey agreed with the statement “Mid Staffs was a one-off”. The remainder said they did not know.

The findings appear to echo a lack of confidence among executive provider leadership. In an HSJ Barometer survey of hospital chief executives last year, 44% of respondents said they were “not confident” that regulators would detect another care scandal.

Asked about how often they visited clinical areas of their trust, half said they did so once a month and half once a week.

Access to necessary information to scrutinise quality appeared to be a problem for some chairs. Sixty per cent said they had access to it only “most of the time”, with 39% having access “all of the time”. The remainder said they did not have access to necessary information.

However, there were positive findings in the survey about the ability of chairs to challenge their executive directors and hold them to account.

When asked whether they felt “empowered to challenge an executive director about poor performance”, all respondents chose either “yes, definitely” or “yes, probably”.

The survey also revealed concerns about inspections, with 64.3% saying more inspections would not lead to an improvement in the quality of care.

It showed chairs were split almost evenly on the question of whether their board would operate differently in the wake of the Francis report, published last month, which made recommendations for improving the NHS in the wake of the Mid Staffs crisis. Thirty per cent said they would “concentrate more on quality” and 16% intended to shift some of the board’s emphasis from strategic issues to operational issues.

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