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Health secretary to launch raft of new patient safety measures

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt is set to use a major speech in the US to launch a “patient safety movement” in a bid to halve rates of avoidable harm over the next three years.

Signing up to the “movement” will be voluntary, but NHS service providers that do will be entitled to discounts on their insurance premiums with the NHS Litigation Authority.

He will say all trusts will receive an invitation to “sign up to safety” over the next few months.

Mr Hunt is expected to announce the plans, along with a raft of other patient safety initiatives, in a speech at the Virginia Mason Hospital in the US later today.

Virginia Mason has a reputation as one of the safest hospitals in the world after it transformed its approach to care, following an incident in which a patient died after being injected with cleaning fluid 10 years ago.

Mr Hunt is due to use his speech to draw parallels with the care scandal at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust and the potential for the NHS to use that as a similar turning point.

On average 3,500 potentially avoidable deaths are reported to the National Reporting and Learning System every year by NHS providers. Mr Hunt will say he wants to save 6,000 lives over the three years.

Other new initiatives to be announced by the health secretary include the creation of a Safety Action for England (SAFE) team. It will consist of senior clinicians, managers and patients deemed to be experts in patient safety.

Mr Hunt is also set to use the speech to announce that the government plans to consult on extending the planned new duty of candour on providers to incidents causing moderate harm, as well as death and serious harm. The move was recommended by an independent review earlier this month, as reported by Nursing Times.

He will reveal that the new patient safety website announced in response to the Francis report will be called “howsafeismyhospital.com”. It will be part of NHS Choices and will allow patients to compare hospital performance on a number of safety indicators.

In recognition of the fact that high levels of reporting of harm is generally held to be good for patient safety, NHS England is currently working on an indicator that will identify what the expected levels of reporting should be, so that trusts who are improving patient safety will not be penalised.

The new initiatives build on Professor Don Berwick’s post-Francis review of patient safety in the NHS, which recommended the service work to create a culture of continuous learning.

NHS England has already announced plans to invest £12m a year in setting up 15 patient safety collaboratives in response to Professor Berwick’s report.

Readers' comments (7)

  • michael stone

    'In recognition of the fact that high levels of reporting of harm is generally held to be good for patient safety, NHS England is currently working on an indicator that will identify what the expected levels of reporting should be, so that trusts who are improving patient safety will not be penalised.'

    Owning up to mistakes is indeed something that tends to push improvement, but of course it potentially also 'damages reputation' unless everyone (i.e. 'the three surrounding hospitals as well as ours') is being open: that particular conundrum, along with possible litigation, is the tricky one to solve for this issue.

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  • tinkerbell

    launch what you like Mr Hunt (trying soo hard to address you in a nice way)but unless you action it what's the bloody point?
    Just more rhetoric to go with all the other bloody bullshit you come out with, that sounds all well and good on the surface but all party frock and no knickers i'm afraid.

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  • tinkerbell

    michael stone | 26-Mar-2014 10:55 am

    people are dying because everything's so f****** tricky. It's not tricky, it's corrupt!

    Some may be too clever to understand this because it's very simple actually but they overcomplicate it and miss the point entirely.

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  • Tiger Girl

    tinkerbell | 26-Mar-2014 11:33 am

    It should be simple - but it isn't simple if nurses are being told to raise concerns and to admit to mistakes, but trust lawyers/accountants are being told to prevent litigation costs, is it?

    What is corrupt, in my view, is politicians who only present part of the argument: for example trumpeting 'some nurses don't care any longer' without mentioning to the same degree 'many nurses are so time-pressured they can't reveal their compassion'.

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  • tinkerbell

    the whole culture of the nhs is motivated by fear. Fear of bullying management making someone's life a misery if they report concerns, it's happened and continues to happen, good people have been hounded out of their jobs because of persecution because they have raised genuine concerns. Openness and transparency are words bandied about whilst corrupt culture remains.

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  • michael stone

    'Openness and transparency are words bandied about whilst corrupt culture remains.'

    That is exactly my point - I don't normally use the word 'corrupt', but that is exactly the point (I normally use 'lip service and contradictory policies' or something similar).

    On the one hand, we are told that staff are being encouraged to raise concerns - but, as Tink says:

    'the whole culture of the nhs is motivated by fear. Fear of bullying management making someone's life a misery if they report concerns, it's happened and CONTINUES to happen, good people have been hounded out of their jobs because of persecution because they have raised genuine concerns'



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  • tinkerbell

    unless it is enshrined into every healthcare workers contract that there is TOTAL AMNESTY for them if they raise concerns then maybe, perhaps, it might work, otherwise the fear will always remain. If this amnesty clause were in everyone's contract and then then found, strangely, they were being persecuted after the event then the perpetrators should be charged with criminal behaviour.

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