Sir Robert Francis has announced he is to step down as chair of Healthwatch England 20 months early, claiming funding cuts mean the patient watchdog could soon struggle “to fulfil its vital role”.
The prominent QC has also announced he will quit his position as a non-executive director of the Care Quality Commission on November 15 2022.
In a letter to Mr Javid, Sir Robert said it had been an “honour and a privilege” to serve on the CQC’s board and a “great pleasure” to support Healthwatch England. He added: “I believe [Healthwatch England] has proved its worth to your department and the system more generally and is now in an ideal position to help you take forward your agenda for improving the patient’s voice.
“However, if I have one regret about my time as chair[man], it is that we have been unable as yet to find a way of reversing the alarming decline in the resources available to Healthwatch – I am afraid there is a growing risk the network will be unable to fulfil its vital role unless urgent attention is paid to this issue.”
Sir Robert has chaired a number of independent inquiries involving the NHS, most notably the inquiry into poor care and high mortality rates at Stafford Hospital – which was published in February 2013.
Last June, Sir Robert was appointed by the government to undertake an independent study into a framework for compensation for victims of the infected blood scandal.
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Source: HSJ, 3 May 2022