The National Health Service (NHS) is held up as one of the UK’s greatest achievements, even featuring in the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics last year. Since its launch in 1948, it has grown to become the world’s largest publicly funded health service.
Yet, following the Mid Staffordshire healthcare scandal at Stafford hospital between January 2005 and March 2009, where between 400 and 1,200 people died unnecessarily as a result of treatment, the NHS is currently under significant scrutiny. Today, a large scale investigation, The Francis Inquiry, has reported back on its findings. With leading figures in the health service involved, regulators and government face severe criticism: What does this say about leadership issues in health and social care services?
These are issues that touch many of our community of authors and researchers, and many SAGE journals publish research focused on such debates. In advance of and in light of today’s announcement, SAGE editor Keith Brown (series editor for Learning Matters series Post Qualifying Social Work) has been discussing his concerns on these issues. As Keith remarks:
Too much focus has been spent on commercial management training for leaders and “essay writing” for practitioners. As academics, we’d be the first to say that it is important to understand the theory behind social work – but surely it is even more important that they can put that training into practice.
In addition, SAGE author Ruth Northway (also editor of SAGE Journal of Intellectual Disabilities) in her book, Safeguarding Adults in Nursing Practice, reports from 2012 highlighted poor care and abuse within the healthcare system. She therefore suggests that safeguarding adults is a key requirement in pre-registration. All healthcare practitioners need to be given the skills and confidence to raise concerns if they suspect abuse or vulnerability.
Today’s publication of The Francis Inquiry will have a significant impact on steps being taken within the NHS to address healthcare practice. Some are commenting that the findings could be potentially devastating for our health system. The exact impact and the steps taken to address these are yet to be seen, but no doubt will be closely watched over the next few months. One question, however, undoubtedly remains, what is the future of the NHS?
Interested in further debates and research on healthcare and good practice? The following SAGE journals, recently acquired from the Royal Society of Medicine are worth a look: