NHS squareRecently, Jeremy Hunt addressed the Global Patient Safety Summit in London. A copy of his speech can be found here.

The aim of the summit was to share learning and best practice on how to bring down levels of avoidable patient harm internationally. In a letter to colleagues, the Secretary of State set out the good progress that has already been made since the Francis Inquiry into Mid Staffs:

…with the proportion of patients being harmed in the NHS dropping by over a third in the three years since (according to the Health Foundation), MRSA bloodstream infections falling by over half in the last five years, and a new and much tougher peer-led inspection regime which has led to 27 hospitals being put into special measures (11 of which have now come out).  Between them those hospitals have hired over 1000 extra doctors and nurses, and one study suggested hundreds of lives may have been saved.  In addition, all hospital trusts now have a statutory duty of candour to patients and their families when things go wrong.”

In the speech, Jeremy Hunt sets out a number of measures to ensure the NHS continues to become an open, learning organisation which empowers patients and professions. This  includes the establishment of an independent Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch, a new system of independent medical examiners, a Charter for Openness and Transparency and changes to guidance regarding NHS staff and professional tribunals.

It is imperative to create a culture which encourages improvement in safety-critical areas. As a professionally-qualified aerospace engineer, I welcome these changes.

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