Health

NHS groups seek 'new page' after scandals of 2013

Two medical staff wheel a bed along a hospital corridor
Image caption The letter said staff were busy providing "high-quality healthcare to millions"

The leaders of 10 NHS groups have called for a "new page to be turned" in 2014 after the "failures of the past".

Organisations including the Royal College of GPs said the fact millions received "high-quality" care "often got lost amid last year's headlines".

In a letter to the Guardian, they said there should be a "balance" between recognising strengths and the need for improvements.

Scandals like that at Stafford Hospital made negative headlines during 2013.

"This week, at one of the most pressured times of the year, hundreds of thousands of dedicated NHS staff throughout the country will be providing high-quality healthcare to millions of patients - something that often got lost amid last year's headlines," the letter said.

"Can we, as organisations representing the NHS frontline, call for a new page to be turned as we start a new year?

"The failures in patient care must be addressed, and part of doing this means, in the words of Professor Don Berwick's review of patient safety, leaving 'fear, blame, recrimination and demoralisation' behind, and going forward with energy and optimism."

The letter, signed by leaders from groups including the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Nursing, also said the NHS faced increasing demand on services and needed to "do more with tighter budgets".

"Rather than looking back to the failures of the past, we now need to devote our time and energy to meeting the very real challenges we face to secure a sustainable NHS for the future," it added.

Criticism of NHS services in 2013 included the publication of the Francis Inquiry into events at Stafford Hospital - where people died due to "appalling" care - which accused the service of betraying patients.

Another 14 hospitals with the highest death rates were then "hauled over the coals for their failings", BBC health correspondent Nick Triggle said.

In the autumn a review criticised the way the NHS dealt with complaints, saying there was a culture of "delay and denial".

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