Head of the new Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch to be announced

The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) which was set up to allow NHS staff, patients and their families to report possible shortcomings in healthcare safety is expected to announce its new head this week.

Keith Conradi is expected to be named as the new head of the organisation and he was formerly the chief inspector of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch, a role he has held since 2010.  This appointment would appear to be fitting as the NHS can be seen to be much like the packed skies above the UK with several moving parts.

The HSIB is to take the same approach that the Air Accidents Investigation Branch takes of ‘no blame’ in relation to investigations with the primary outcome being to avoid repeating former mistakes. Taking such an approach should encourage more transparency and openness with the newly formed organisation which is now due to start work in the Autumn.

Some commentators have criticised the organisation at the outset s it does not appear to be independent (it will sit within NHS Improvement) and does not have any legislative footing in order to give the organisation the authority it needs to be effective.

One of the key mandates of the HSIB is to both conduct investigations into healthcare safety failings and provide guidance and support to NHS organisations.  Making the NHS safer and more aware of its potential shortcomings is very important but with a budget of only £3.5m and with it only expected to make 30 reviews a year it is questionable as to the level of positive contribution that an organisation such as this can make. This is clearly a step in the right direction and it is hoped that this new organisation can help reduce the potential for unsafe healthcare practices catching providers unaware.

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