Since the publication of the Francis report, the NHS in England has “changed for the better” Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt claims.
Speaking at a health conference in London, Hunt said the new inspection regime and changes following the report are making a difference.
The report, published in February last year, outlined various failings in care at Stafford Hospital and accused the NHS system of betraying the public.
Hunt said: “Twelve months on, we cannot expect to have solved everything or have completely transformed the culture of the country’s largest and finest institution.
“But we have seen a real shift in priorities – new inspections, more nurses and a stronger voice for patients with compassionate care starting to replace tick-box targets as the major focus on boards and wards.”
In his speech Hunt pointed out that the overall number of hospital nurses has risen by 3,500 over the past year, according to Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) statistics.
However, overall nurse numbers have fallen by more than 5,000 since the last election, when community and primary care nurses are taken into account.
Royal College of Nursing chief executive Peter Carter told the BBC there had been some “good news”.
But he added: “We are also not seeing nursing staff spread evenly across the health system – we have severe shortages in mental health and in the community, and district nurse numbers are down which is very worrying and has many knock-on effects.
“We need to see the government put forward a long-term vision for workforce planning and make sure NHS patients get the care they deserve wherever they receive it.”