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Francis report ‘underlines GP advocate role’

GP leaders have welcomed the Francis report and said it underlined the important role of GPs as ‘patient advocates’ and should strenghten the profession in challenging bad care in hospitals.

Commenting on the results from the public inquiry into the failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said he found the details of what happened at the hospital ‘sickening’, but welcomed the focus placed on GPs in ensuring patients are treated safely in hospitals.

He said: ‘Even though I have followed the enquiry over the last few years it is still sickening to hear again how vulnerable elderly patients were treated in such an unacceptable way. All those working in the NHS, whether they be clinical, managerial or support staff must have the needs of the patients we jointly serve as our first concern.

‘We will give the Francis Report the importance that it deserves and read it carefully before making a detailed response. GPs already know they have an important role to play as patients’ advocates and if nothing else this report underlines the importance of that role and should strengthen us all to be bolder in how we stand up for patients, ensuring they receive the best possible care.’

It comes as RCGP chair Professor Clare Gerada said the report showed that it was important to increase the number of GPs so they are able to focus on patient care.

She said: ‘What happened at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust was system failure of the highest order and we are deeply saddened that so many patients and their families were let down, with such tragic results.

‘Unfortunately, it demonstrates the extreme consequences of what can happen when the NHS loses sight of patient care on the ground in the scramble to balance budgets and achieve targets.

‘While the Francis report focuses on failings in secondary care, it has implications for the whole of the NHS, including general practice. At a time when the NHS is under greater than ever financial pressure, it is imperative that the needs of patients are put first, and that cuts are not made which could jeopardise the safety of patient care.

‘Clinicians, including GPs and their teams, must be given the ability to do what is most important: listening to patients and caring for them. GPs have so far ridden the storm but financial constraints and top-down targets are starting to adversely affect the level of care we can deliver to our patients.

‘We need to reverse this trend by increasing the number of GPs available to provide patient care, and by ensuring they are free to focus their attention on what matters most to patients.’