NHS ‘blame’ culture must end to prevent repeat of Gosport War Memorial Hospital scandal

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt issues a statement on Gosport Hospital in the House of Commons, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 20, 2018. See PA story HEALTH Gosport. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt issues a statement on Gosport Hospital in the House of Commons, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 20, 2018. See PA story HEALTH Gosport. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
Picture: Malcolm Wells

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Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said the ‘blame’ culture in the NHS had to change to help prevent repeats of the Gosport War Memorial Hospital scandal.

‘I think there is a blame culture in a lot of the NHS,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

The culture ‘is changing but it has got a long way to go’, he acknowledged.

‘The basic problem is that if you are a doctor or a nurse and you see something going wrong - even if you are perhaps responsible for a mistake yourself - the most important thing, the thing that families want if they are bereaved or if they have a tragedy, is to know that the NHS isn’t going to make that mistake again.

‘We make it much too hard for doctors and nurses to do that - they are worried that there will be litigation, they will go up in front of the GMC or NMC, the reputation of their unit - in some places they are worried they might get fired, so we do have to tackle that blame culture and turn that into a learning culture.’

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told Today: ‘In an organisation of 1.4 million people, unfortunately you are going to get malpractice, you are going to get some people who do the wrong thing.

‘You can never say that that will be totally eliminated but I do think we would find out about that much, much sooner these days with all the things we have put in place.’

Hampshire police chief constable Olivia Pinkney said: ‘It is already apparent from our early reading of the 370 pages that in its deliberations, the panel has had sight of information that has not previously been seen by Hampshire Constabulary.

‘It is important that a process is put in place to ensure that all of the relevant agencies come together, to enable decisions about next steps to be made in a way that is well considered and transparent to all of the families.’

Health safety expert Professor Sir Brian Jarman, head of the Dr Foster Unit at Imperial College London, said the Gosport scandal could be repeated.

He said information on mortality rates produced by the unit was not properly assessed by health officials.

‘There really is a desire not to know,’ he said.

Whistleblowers were still ‘fired, gagged and blacklisted’, he told Today.

Asked if he would be surprised if events similar to Gosport were happening in other hospitals he said: ‘Not at all.’

He added: ‘I think it’s likely.’