Government push for better safety reporting in the NHS

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

A review on hospital reporting incidents has been released as part of the Department of Health and NHS England’s drive to improve safety in the NHS.  The analysis reveals that 29 out of 141 trusts are not registering the expected number of safety incidents.

The review suggested such figures could be a sign of a “poor” safety culture within the NHS.  Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has stressed the importance of an open and honest culture within hospitals.

Mr Hunt has been promoting the Sign up to Safety campaign to trusts asking them to draw up plans to halve “avoidable harm” by 2016-17.  The next stage of the campaign is due to be launched this afternoon (Tuesday 24 June) in the form of a website that allows patients to view the performance of individual hospitals in areas such as staffing and infection rates.  Information will also be provided on hospitals ratings for open and honest reporting.  NHS England official will follow up any trusts  displaying lower than expected incident reporting.

Commenting on the campaign, Mr Hunt said that this was not about humiliating anyone but “The NHS is there for patients and if a hospital has a problem with its reporting culture, I think patients have a right to know that.”  He added that hospitals will be encouraged to take speedier action if patients are aware of such problems.

The Department of Health stressed that low reporting may be justified in some cases.  For example, some trusts may have an innocent misunderstanding of the recording system and other trusts may simply be safe.  But it was only right for concerns to be investigated further.

Sir David Dalton, leader of the safety campaign and chief executive of Salford Royal Hospital said “Healthcare carries inherent risk and while healthcare professionals work hard every day to reduce this risk every day, harm still happens.  Some is unavoidable but most isn’t.  Sign up to Safety seeks to reduce this harm and is a unique opportunity for us all to work together to listen, learn and act to make a difference.”

The review has been released shortly before the statutory duty of candour is due to come into force in October 2014 as a new CQC regulatory requirement.

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