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Labour pledges to strengthen accountability for NHS bosses in wake of Letby case

Labour has vowed it will ensure NHS managers found guilty of serious wrongdoing are disbarred under a “proper system of accountability” if the party wins the next election.

The Opposition said the Government has “dragged its feet” over strengthening accountability for bosses in the health service.

Calls for this have mounted in the wake of the Lucy Letby case, as whistleblowers’ concerns about the child serial killer were not addressed for months before she was finally taken off frontline duties.

Senior doctors at the Countess of Chester Hospital, where the 33-year-old nurse carried out her year-long murder spree on the neonatal unit, have said hospital managers should be regulated in a similar way to doctors and nurses.

A Labour government would introduce a professional regulatory system, with professional standards and training for people running hospitals to enhance accountability and patient safety, according to the party.

A regulatory body, which Labour would consult on once in office, would have the power to suspend and exclude managers for serious misconduct.

Wes Streeting
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting suggested NHS managers should be held accountable for failings (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said: “The appalling murders at the Countess of Chester hospital are not the first time whistleblowers have been ignored, when listening to their warnings could have saved lives.

“NHS leaders have enormous responsibility for the health of their patients, yet currently face less regulation than bank managers.

“To protect patient safety, this must change. The case for a proper system of accountability has been made again and again. Labour will introduce this in office, and make sure those found guilty of serious misconduct are disbarred.

“Labour will also implement strong professional standards and training for managers, to foster excellent leadership throughout our health service.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “There are a number of systems and processes in place to ensure accountability of NHS directors.

“NHS England has recently strengthened these through the introduction of the Fit and Proper Person Framework, which includes a set of standard competencies for board directors, a means of retaining information regarding individual directors and a new board member reference template. We keep this policy under active review.”