Health Trusts in England are now being ranked by their ability to learn from mistakes, just one measure which forms part of several changes announced by the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to improve patient safety.

A new independent Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch will also be created. This branch will be modelled on airline accident enquiries and will encourage hospital staff to report concerns and mistakes, without bringing them into conflict with their employer. The branch will be given legal powers to keep disclosures secret and may also be granted powers to offer immunity.

Additionally from April 2018 independent medical examiners will review all hospital deaths and confirm the cause and families will be encouraged to raise any suspicions they may have if a relative dies in hospital.

TSP Clinical Negligence Solicitor Clare Sheeran commented “Encouraging medical staff to be open and honest about mistakes they have made by offering them immunity is a step in the right direction to improving patient safety and a safer healthcare system. Everyone learns by their mistakes and unless these mistakes are unveiled lessons cannot be learnt. Medical mistakes can have catastrophic consequences for patients and their families and so a culture change within the NHS is needed if the number of avoidable deaths and serious incidents is to be reduced. However, measures also need to be taken to improve the quality and consistency of NHS investigations into serious incidents.”

Steve Webb, who leads the TSP Litigation team added “This would be a big step forward for the victims of medical accidents if it goes through and is adhered to.”


The Times, Wednesday March 9 2016

BBC Website: NHS Trusts Ranked on Learning From Mistakes.