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Leading nurse joins Obama's adviser in quest for zero harm

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One of the country’s leading nursing directors is to join world renowned academics and patient representatives on a group set up by the government to advise on making zero harm care a reality in the NHS.

Elaine Inglesby-Burke, director of nursing at Salford Royal Foundation Trust, is the only nurse on the 15 member group which is being led by Don Berwick, a former adviser to US president Barack Obama.

Professor Berwick was asked to set up the National Advisory Group on the Safety of Patients in England by prime minister David Cameron in the wake of last month’s publication of the Francis report into the care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.

The consultant paediatrician is president emeritus and senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, an organisation he co-founded and led as president and chief executive for 18 years. Three other leading experts from the institute will also sit on the group.

The group has been asked to develop a “whole system approach” to achieving harm free care to ensure risks to patient safety are always acted upon as soon as they are identified.

Ms Inglesby-Burke, who is also a member of the prime minister’s forum on nursing and care quality, is joined on the group by Salford Royal chief executive David Dalton. The trust has a reputation for driving improvements in quality and safety and has been involved in the development of the patient safety thermometer which is now used to measure harm by all hospitals in England.

Other members include experts in sociology, psychology, leadership and patient and public engagement.

Professor Berwick was appointed by President Obama to lead reform of the US Medicare and Medicaid programmes in 2010 but was forced to resign a year later due to political opposition.

He told Nursing Times’ sister publication HSJ the review would look at all 290 of the Francis report’s recommendations.

He said: “There is no reason why English care cannot be the safest in the world.”

Asked about Mr Francis’ proposal for criminal sanctions for individuals and organisations involved in serious patient safety failures, Professor Berwick indicated such an approach was unlikely to be in keeping with safety improvement evidence.

“Safety science is founded on a very strong premise that the workforce really do want to do well – they want to practice in a safe way,” he said.

In contrast, he said “participation of and voice from patients and carers and families and communities” – issued also highlighted by Francis – were “very likely to end up being a strong theme” of his work.

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