NHS staff will be given a ‘safe space’ to discuss mistakes with a new investigation unit without fear of reprisal.
Medical staff who speak to the newly launched Health Services Safety Investigations Body (HSSIB) will not have their testimony or evidence handed over to another government agency unless ordered to do so by the High Court.
This means that whatever doctors, nurses and other medical staff tells the investigation unit will not be seen by the police, a coroner or the General Medical Council without approval.
The new ‘safe space’ powers are a first for the medical industry and follow similar concepts already introduced in workplaces for maritime, airline and rail professions.
The HSSIB said it is already considering issues involved in the case of nurse Lucy Letby who was found guilty earlier this year of murdering seven babies and attempting to murder six more at the Countess of Chester hospital.
NHS staff will be given a ‘safe space’ to discuss mistakes with the newly launched Health Services Safety Investigations Body (HSSIB) without fear of reprisal (Stock image)
The HSSIB said it is already considering issues involved in the case of nurse Lucy Letby (pictured) who was found guilty earlier this year of murdering seven babies and attempting to murder six more at the Countess of Chester hospital
HSSIB chief investigator and GP Rosie Benneyworth told The Times: ‘We know that the vast majority of people working in healthcare come to work to do a good job every day.
‘Often, it’s the systems and the environment that they work in, the processes and the culture of their organisations that can impede that. We want to use our new powers to really understand what is happening on the ground.
‘We know that results get lost frequently across the NHS, and at the Countess of Chester we understand there may have been some lost insulin results. That’s a prime example of a theme we could look at.’
The conception of the HSSIB began in 2016 when the then Helath Secretary Jeremy Hunt told MPs that ‘staff need to feel more confident that the information they give to safety investigations and ‘will not be used unfairly’.
He added that the ‘safe space’ concept is designed to ‘improve patient safety standards’ and enable clinicians to discuss their experiences ‘openly and honestly’.
The HSSIB will include staff from areas where there are already similar ‘safe space’ concepts in place as well as clinicians and members of the military and police.
It will be used to investiaget incidents across parts of the NHS such as in GP surgeries, dentists and also in private healthcare.
Members of the public will be able to report safety incidents directly on its website.
The body has now since been backed by patient safety minister, Maria Caulfield as well as patient safety campaigner James Titcombe.