In this opinion piece for the BMJ, David Oliver, a consultant in geriatrics and acute general medicine, draws lessons from the Grenfell Tower disaster and subsequent public inquiry. 72 people lost their lives in the fire that destroyed Grenfell Tower in 2017. Evidence to the public inquiry has shown that several residents had raised concerns about the building's safety over many years, and that architects, building contractors, and providers and fitters of cladding material had also expressed concerns about the safety of the exterior cladding used on Grenfell Tower.
David Oliver highlights that had these concerns been listened to and acted on, the disaster could have been avoided and many lives saved. He draws parallels with concerns being raised by patients about the safety of the healthcare system and highlights the role of staff in repeatedly raising and keeping a record of concerns. He states that NHS leaders must create a culture where no one is afraid to speak out and act to mitigate safety issues. Leaders must expect to be held accountable for their response - or lack of response - to safety issues raised.