The Department of Health has published the Government’s response to the Health Select Committee Report ‘Patient Safety.’
National Reporting and Learning System (NRLS)
The Health Select Committee stated that “After the expenditure of much effort and funding on the National Reporting and Learning System…….we are concerned that the NRLS is nevertheless still limited in its effectiveness.”
Healthcare Governance Review is particularly concerned that despite the ongoing failure of the NPSA to establish a national reporting system in line with Building a Safer NHS for patients, published in 2001, the Department of Health nevertheless contends that “The NRLS is one of the most comprehensive patient safety reporting and learning systems in the world.” We wonder how this statement can be justified given that the Health Committee states that “The [NRLS] currently amasses a good deal of summary data of doubtful usefulness [and] unlike reporting systems in other safety critical industries, and in other healthcare systems, it does not systematically gather in-depth (root-cause analysis) data on serious and sentinel events.”
Managers and Boards
Managers and boards came in for significant criticism from the Health Committee. In particular, the Committee felt that:
- There was disturbing evidence of catastrophic failure on the part of some Boards in cases such as Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust and Mid-Staffordshire Trust.
- Boards too often address governance and regulatory issues, believing that they are thereby discharging their responsibilities in respect of patient safety—when what they should actually be doing is promoting tangible improvements in services.
- Many managers and non-executive members of Boards with responsibility for patient safety seem to have little or no grounding in the subject.
- Patient safety is not currently, but must become the top priority of Boards.
- No Board in the NHS should always be meeting behind closed doors.
The Government appears to have largely accepted the Committee’s finding in relation to management and boards and their responses can be found in the Government’s response document at paras. 49-57, inclusive.
Download the Government response to the Health Committee report on Patient Safety, together with the original patient safety report, here.