The Health and Social Care Select Committee is currently holding an Inquiry into Delivering Core NHS and Care Services during the Pandemic and Beyond. It’s stated aim is to ‘give focus to these upcoming strategic challenges, and give those working in the NHS and care sectors an opportunity to set out what help they will need from Government in meeting them’ . This is a submission to the Inquiry by Patient Safety Learning.
As the health and social care system focuses its attention on tackling Covid-19, the need to pay attention to patient safety is now more important than ever. In addition to creating new patient and staff safety challenges, the pandemic is magnifying existing issues, increasing the underlying causes of known patient safety problems, and detracting attention from safety initiatives that, to date, may have had traction and success.
It is vital that we understand the impact Covid-19 is having on patient safety and identify and address the system issues that are causing avoidable harm.
Patient Safety Learning’s response to the Inquiry is structured as follows:
The pandemic’s impact on non Covid-19 care and patient safety
Considering key themes and issues emerging in non Covid-19 care and treatment including:
- public avoiding NHS for non Covid-19 treatment
- delays in treatment
- lack of chronic disease management
- lack of support for specific health conditions
- whether we are learning from patient safety incidents during this period.
Balancing Covid-19 and ‘ordinary’ health care
This section outlines of insights Patient Safety Learning has gathered, focusing on the patient safety concerns around home births, social care, and rapid hospital discharge.
Transitioning to the ‘new normal’ and a ‘safe restart’
Considering the long-term patient safety challenges presented by the impact of the pandemic on non Covid-19 care and treatment, such as:
- tackling the new backlog in elective care
- safe staffing and the importance of workforce planning in returning to normal levels of care.
- ensuring staff welfare.
It also looks at the opportunities to improve health and social care as services normalise including:
- increasing accessibility to services
- sharing knowledge and innovations
- a renewed focus on staff safety
- developing safe systems.
In the concluding comments Patient Safety Learning call for the Health and Social Care Select Committee to recommend to the Government that the redesign of health and social care has patient and staff safety at its core with:
- Patient safety at the heart of improved care delivery models with explicit safety strategies and goals for leadership, shared learning, and culture
- Innovation for safer care shared and implemented widely.
- Transitioning to new ways of working and a ‘safe restart’ to be designed with patient and staff safety at its core and publicly reported.
- Patient engagement and communication to be prioritised, providing information and assurance to patients and families as to the safety of their care and how their concerns can be addressed.
 UK Parliament, Delivering Core NHS and Care Services during the Pandemic and Beyond, Last Accessed 7 May 2020. https://committees.parliament.uk/work/277/delivering-core-nhs-and-care-services-during-the-pandemic-and-beyond/