The Welsh Labour Government must act now to ensure that Wales does not have its own Mid-Staffordshire scandal, Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats wilhas argued.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have called on the Welsh Labour Government to implement a series of measures that will seek to improve patient safety in the NHS and avoid a Mid Staffordshire scandal in Wales. The National Assembly will yesterday debated the Welsh Government's response to the Francis Inquiry that looked into the causes of patient deaths in Mid-Staffordshire.
The calls from the Shadow Health Minister, Kirsty Williams, included:
Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats said:
"The suffering of patients and their families in Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust was a scandal that can never be repeated. I am very concerned that a similar sort of breakdown in patient care and safety could happen in the Welsh NHS given the poor financial and administrative management by the Welsh Labour Government.
"The Francis Report is now an opportunity for the Welsh NHS to make changes to its structures and procedures. Local Health Boards in Wales have already admitted that their systems to monitor potential weaknesses in the standard of care are not good enough. For the NHS's mortality index to work properly, every patient admitted to a Welsh hospital must be accurately coded with their risk of dying. The University Hospital of Wales has admitted a backlog of 40,000 patients still waiting to be coded. If they are not correctly coded, we will not know if their deaths could have been avoided.
"Once the coding issue has been resolved, we want to see a mechanism established whereby if an LHB consistently exceeds a specific death rate threshold over a period of time, the Welsh Government should immediately investigate what has been going on. This will ensure that if there are weaknesses in our NHS, they will be flagged up and investigated. This was one of the main reasons why the Mid-Staffordshire scandal led to so many patients suffering.
"We also needa change in the law to require minimum staffing levels for nurses in Wales. It is staggering to see the vast difference in the ratio of nurses to patients in Wales when compared to the rest of the UK. Once again Welsh Labour's poverty of ambition has led to our NHS having to do more, but with less.
"The Francis report emphasised the importance of staffing levels in its investigation into the Mid-Staffordshire scandal and there is strong evidence to support the fact that minimum nurse staffing levels improve patient outcomes.
"The shocking scandal at Mid Staffordshire hospital highlighted the importance of NHS staff being able to blow the whistle on problems they have seen in their workplace. Routine neglect sadly became the norm at these hospitals due to a culture of fear, bullying and secrecy. It is for this reason that the Welsh Liberal Democrats have been calling on the need for staff in the Welsh NHS to have their own whistleblowing hotline."