A RADICAL shift in the culture of the NHS is needed to rid it of outdated working practices, cure it of widespread bullying and heal the damaging rift between managers and clinicians, the head of its official regulator has warned.
David Prior, chairman of the Care Quality Commission (CQC), also called for serious “transformational change” of the health service, without which it will “go bust”.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Prior called for greater input from the private sector, the merging of hospitals and changes to the way the NHS is held to account – particularly, the scrapping of waiting targets.
He highlighted the “alarming” revelation a survey of 100,000 NHS staff found one in four had been bullied. He also described the NHS as having a culture that “stigmatises and ostracises” whistleblowers who raise concerns or complaints.
His warning comes at a time when the NHS is struggling to emerge from crises such as the Mid-Staffs scandal, as well as facing rising costs and an ageing population.
Mr Prior, a former MP and deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, who was appointed to run the CQC last year, said: “I have worked in the NHS for 12 years. I love it – I am often overwhelmed by the kindness, care and skills of its staff – and yet am too often shocked by some of the behaviour I see.”
He also described a “them and us” relationship between hospital managers and clinicians, a dangerous rift he said needed “radically altering” to avoid jeopardising patients’ safety and blocking care improvements.
Mr Prior called for a major restructuring in healthcare provision, warning: “Without serious change, the NHS will deliver poor care, and ultimately go bust.”