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Commons issue 'insufficient progress' warning on patient safety

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The House of Commons Health Committee has warned that there has been ‘insufficient progress’ towards making patient safety a priority across the whole healthcare system.

The Patient Safety report said that health services ‘too often’ were so concentrated on attaining foundation trust status and hitting waiting list and accident and emergency targets that it raised safety concerns.

The report said: ‘This has undoubtedly, in a number of well documented cases, been a contributory factor in making services unsafe.’

The committee said that achieving foundation status had been a major factor in ‘distracting’ the Mid Staffordshire NHS trust from patient safety and led to the unnecessary deaths of between 400 and 1,200 patients.

An investigation highlighted ‘appalling standards of care and chaotic systems for looking after patients’ which resulted in a higher than expected number of deaths at the trust.

Government policy to achieve a financial balance was also cited as appearing to be more important than patient safety.

While the committee said it was ‘unconvinced’ that a full public inquiry was necessary, it said that private hearings could be held to allow staff to give evidence confidentially, followed by a public report of findings.

It said it hopes that would put an end to the ‘significant under-reporting’ of incidents of concern in primary care.

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