A new patient safety watchdog has been given powers to investigate serious incidents or risks to patients in GP practices and NHS trusts under a draft bill laid before Parliament today.
The Health Service Safety Investigations Bill establishes statutory powers of the Health Service Safety Investigations Body, principally investigating ‘safe spaces’
This will mean information from NHS whistleblowers, patients, or their families shared with an accredited body or as part of an investigation will not routinely be made public.
In most cases a High Court order would be needed to make information given to the Health Service Safety Investigations Body public
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said this was a ‘landmark’ for safety in the NHS and said he hopes that this will encourage staff to raise concerns without fear of recrimination.
Modelled on the ‘no blame’ system in air safety investigations the HSSIB will be independent of the NHS and have powers to investigate NHS bodies and contracted providers.
The Department of Health confirmed to Pulse that GP practices would be within the scope of its investigations, but it was not focused on any one part of the health service.
After each investigation is completed, the HSSIB will publish detailed reports which will:
- make recommendations for system-wide learning across the NHS;
- help develop national standards on investigations;
- provide advice, guidance and training to improve investigative practice across the health service.
Mr Hunt said: ‘When significant errors occur, it is vital that health organisations react quickly and decisively to share lessons and make improvements.
‘To achieve this we need to create an environment where patients, public and healthcare professionals all feel able to speak out about their concerns, without fear or favour.’