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Harnessing the wisdom of the public

December 31, 2009
Innovation to improve the quality and safety of public services (especially health and social care) is a major focus of my work, thoughts, activity and energy. The article below is from the website of iWantGreatCare, a company I founded which harnesses the “wisdom of the crowd” to improve all forms of healthcare.

“Hundreds of patients died at an NHS hospital after suffering appalling standards of care.“
Conditions described as “third world“.
Four hundred avoidable deaths in a single year.

These are shocking headlines and each one represents an awful personal tragedy to families. But of course they are just the tip of the iceberg. For each patient that dies unnecessarily, there will be many, many more injured, damaged and poorly treated.

Despite all the noise around Bristol a decade ago, and Mid-Staffordshire just this year (“up to 1,200 avoidable deaths“), and despite promises that “this will be the last” – patients still have no way of knowing whether they and their families are being treated in safe, efficient, caring hospitals.

But real questions need to be asked about what the staff at Primary Care Trust in Basildon were doing during this time? The PCT has been commissioning care from the Basildon and Thurrock University Hospital and sending patients to a dangerous and (according to the Royal College of Nursing) “third world” hospital. The PCT is supposed to be the advocate of the patients, to take into account the experience and preferences of patients in all their commissioning decisions and to only choose care which delivers high quality and excellent experience. Why did the PCT not know what was going on just down the road?

Of course the reason that the PCT had no idea what was going on in Basildon is the same reason that most PCTs and the CQC have no clear understanding of the quality of care delivered by Trusts across the country. If you keep using the same, outdated, disproved methods and approaches for measuring quality you will keep getting the same results. Archaic systems of annual reviews, self-assessment with internal review at Trusts, and sending in CQC inspectors after people have died is unacceptable and would not be allowed in any other industry.

So what is the answer? (read the full text…)

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