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Government launches new safety measures for the NHS

Trusts can reduce insurance premiums by signing up

Jo Carlowe

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is to launch new safety measures for the NHS when he speaks later today at a US hospital.

Mr Hunt is due to speak at the Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle which has a reputation as one of the safest hospitals in the world after it changed its approach to care following a major incident a decade earlier in which a patient died after being injected with cleaning fluid.

The Health Secretary is to announce plans for a “patient safety movement” with the aim of halving rates of avoidable harm in the NHS over the next three years. The scheme is aimed to save 6,000 lives and to help reduce the £1.3 billion that the NHS spends every year on litigation claims.

In the speech, Mr Hunt will call on NHS trusts to sign up to a voluntary action plan called ‘Sign up to Safety’ in which organisations will be asked to set out publicly their plans to reduce avoidable harm, such as medical errors, blood clots and bed sores.

The NHS Litigation Authority will review the plans and, when approved, will reduce the premiums paid by all hospitals successfully implementing them.

The government will also introduce a “duty of candour”, as requested in the Francis Inquiry. This will involve health and social care organisations providers notifying patients about incidents where “significant harm” has occurred and to provide an apology.

In addition, 5,000 “safety champions” are to be recruited - people charged with identifying unsafe care and developing solutions. These new recruits will be supported by a national Safety Action for England (Safe) team.

In June the NHS Choices website will launch a new section called: ‘How Safe is My Hospital’.

Commenting, Mr Hunt said: “It is my clear ambition that the NHS should become the safest healthcare system anywhere in the world. I want the tragic events of Mid Staffs to become a turning point in the creation of a more open, compassionate and transparent culture within the NHS.”

However, Shadow Health Minister Jamie Reed has said the government has failed to learn the lessons of the Francis Review “having handed out P45s to thousands of nurses and frontline staff”.

“More than half of nurses now say their ward is dangerously understaffed, and more believe patient safety has got worse over the last year rather than better.”

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