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NHS ‘a long way’ from being ‘proactive’ on safety, watchdog warns

Integrated care systems (ICSs) should factor patient safety into all their operational and financial decisions, the Healthcare Safety Investigations Branch’s chief investigator has urged.

Rosie Benneyworth, who was appointed as interim chief investigator last summer, said other safety-critical industries made decisions on the basis of a “triad” of operations, finances and safety. She said the NHS needed to be “more proactive” to take action before things go wrong.

Dr Benneyworth said in an interview with HSJ: “I think it’s fundamental that ICSs put safety at the core of everything they do. And I don’t think operational decisions or financial decisions should be made without considering the implications for safety.”

Dr Benneyworth – a former GP and commissioner – also spoke about whistleblowing in the wake of the Lucy Letby scandal, saying national organisations should “lead the way” on being proactive over safety and supporting whistleblowers. Major cultural problems were uncovered at HSIB several years ago, while NHSE has been under the spotlight in recent weeks for implementation of the “fit and proper person” test for board members.

“I think it’s very difficult as national organisations to tell providers what they should [be] doing, if we’re not doing it ourselves,” Dr Benneyworth said.

She added: “What we need is a much more proactive approach to safety, where we actually identify those things that could go wrong and take action before they do go wrong."

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 5 September 2023


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