After over three years in the role, Sir Robert Francis QC has announced his intention to step down in November 2022 as Chair of Healthwatch England. He will also retire from the Board of CQC board, which he joined in 2014.
Appointed in October 2018, Sir Robert Francis QC joined Healthwatch with a strong reputation for advocating on behalf of others. With a background in medical law, Sir Robert 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.
Last year, Healthwatch services supported more than two million people to share their experiences of care or access the advice they needed. As well as overseeing a rise in the number of people supported by Healthwatch, Sir Robert has highlighted a host of issues in hospital, GP, social care and mental health services to Government and NHS leaders to help improve standards of care.
Announcing his retirement, Sir Robert Francis QC 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.”
Chair of CQC Ian Dilks OBE said:
“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.”
Sir Robert will stay as Chair of Healthwatch England and as a member of the CQC board until mid November 2022. The Department of Health and Social Care will carry out the recruitment for his replacement.
Sir Robert Francis wrote to notify the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care of his intention to step down on 27 April 2022. Read his letter in full.
Letter to Secretary of State for Health and Social Care