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Government blocks ‘blanket’ rule to suspend all staff where safety is at risk

The government has rejected advice from an independent inquiry into the actions of disgraced surgeon Ian Paterson to suspend all healthcare professionals who are suspected of posing a risk to patient safety.

The Department of Health and Social Care today published its response to 15 recommendations from the inquiry, which found Mr Paterson, jailed for 20 years in 2017 for 17 offences of wounding with intent, may have conducted up to 1,000 botched and unnecessary operations over a 14-year period.

Of its 15 recommendations, the DHSC accepts nine in full, five in principle, rejects one entirely and there is another further point which it is keeping under review.

In particular, the inquiry panel members recommended that when a hospital investigates a healthcare professional’s behaviour, including the use of an HR process, any perceived risk to patient safety should result in the suspension of that healthcare professional.

DHSC chiefs said they agree practice exclusions and restriction can be necessary, and in some cases immediate exclusion is an appropriate response while an investigation is ongoing.

But they added: “However, we do not believe it would be fair or proportionate to impose a blanket rule to exclude practitioners in such cases.

“Such a step may inadvertently cause a chilling effect, dissuading healthcare professionals from raising concerns and negatively impacting patient safety.”

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 16 December 2021


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