Healthwatch England: Sir Robert Francis

Sir Robert Francis QC
Sir Robert Francis

Sir Robert Francis is stepping down as chair of health and social care services watchdog Healthwatch England in November.

He will also retire from the board of the Care Quality Commission which he joined in 2014.

Sir Robert joined Healthwatch in October 2018; he has a background in medical law and previously chaired national inquiries into the care provided by Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust and the Freedom to Speak Up Review into the treatment of NHS staff who raise concerns.

Sir Robert said: “It has been a privilege to serve on the CQC board and as chair of Healthwatch England. This unique position has enabled me to raise the issues which really matter to patients, service users and those close to them. People who use services must be central to NHS and social care decision-making. Their voice is crucial to understanding what works and how services can be better. Greater attention to listening and acting on public feedback has led to real improvements in policy and practice.

“However, the health and social care system continues to face challenges in meeting demand and in maintaining safety and quality. So, listening to people who use services and providing the resources to enable this to happen are ever more important. Not only will this help to prevent tragic failures in care occurring, but it will also result in better support and lives for many people in England.”

CQC’s chair Ian Dilks commented: “It is clear that Sir Robert’s contribution both as a CQC board member and as chair of Healthwatch has been significant. He is a passionate and committed advocate of people who use health and care services, and has helped to ensure that their voices and experiences have become increasingly central to shaping the regulation and delivery of these services.

“Having just become chair of CQC, I am disappointed that our time working together will be brief. However, I am pleased that Sir Robert has agreed to remain in post until November, giving the board the opportunity to benefit from his experience and insight for some months to come.”

The Department of Health and Social Care will carry out the recruitment for Sir Robert’s replacement.

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