New bill to investigate patient safety incidents

The Department of Health has announced a new safety organisation that has new legal powers to investigate serious patient safety incidents in the NHS.

The draft Health Service Safety Investigations Bill will establish and enshrine in law the powers of the Health Service Safety Investigations Body (HSSIB).

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that the bill, and the resulting arm’s length body, forms a key part of his plan to develop a more open, learning culture across the NHS. This carries on the department’s intention to create a ‘safe space’ in which people can share information in the knowledge that it will not be disclosed.

After each investigation into a serious safety incident 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; and provide advice, guidance and training to improve investigative practice across the health service.

Hunt said: “This draft bill represents a landmark moment for patient safety across our NHS, and is a historic opportunity to achieve widespread cultural change in learning from mistakes. 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.”

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