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Found 23 results
  1. News Article
    Source: The Times. 5 March Shared on Twitter @ShaunLintern
  2. Content Article
    Related reading Patient Safety Spotlight interview with Marie Lyon, chair of the Association for Children Damaged by Hormone Pregnancy Tests
  3. Content Article
    The Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety (IMMDS) Review examined the response of the healthcare system in England to the harmful side effects of three medical interventions: hormone pregnancy tests, sodium valproate and pelvic mesh implants. These interventions have resulted in a truly shocking degree of avoidable harm to patients over a period of decades, with the Review describing the healthcare system’s response to this as “disjointed, siloed, unresponsive and defensive."[1] Over two years on from the publication of the IMMDS Review’s report, First Do No Harm, the Health and Social Care Select Committee has today published a new report reviewing the implementation of its recommendations to date.[2] The Review made nine overarching safety recommendations, of which the Government accepted four in full, two in part, one in principle and rejected two.[3] Following an evidence session held on 13 December 2022, the Health and Social Care Select Committee’s report focuses specifically on two of the three medical interventions considered by the IMMDS Review, sodium valproate and pelvic mesh implants, and makes recommendations for Government action on these issues. Implementing recommendations The Committee’s report highlights the need to ensure that the below recommendations of the IMMDS Review, which the Government accepted, are fully implemented: That the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) substantially revises its approach, particularly in relation to adverse event reporting and medical device regulation and ensures that it engages more with patients and their outcomes. A central patient-identifiable database should be created by collecting key details of the implantation of all devices at the time of the operation. That it sets up a register of clinicians’ interests and ensures this includes financial and non-pecuniary interests for all doctors. That it establishes a register of industry payments to clinicians. Ensuring that the MHRA is responsive to patients and their outcomes is a long-term piece of work. The MHRA has come forward with numerous activities aimed at improving its approach in this respect, including the introduction of a new Patient Involvement Strategy.[4] While the jury is still out on what the impact of this will be, Patient Safety Learning believes that to meet the Review’s recommendation will require more than just increased patient involvement; it will mean meeting patients’ expectations that healthcare products are safe and that patients are free from avoidable harm. Turning to the creation of a central patient-identifiable database and a register of industry payments, there has been a lack of significant progress on these recommendations to date. However, pilot work on the register of clinicians’ interest has taken place and it has been stated by the Minister Maria Caulfield MP that implementation of this will begin in 2023. On each of these recommendations, we support the Committee’s calls for increased urgency by the Government in regards to their implementation. We also believe that there should be openly published timetables setting out plans for this. You can read more about the importance of registering of clinicians interests, industry payments to clinicians and the need for greater transparency and reporting around financial conflicts of interest in healthcare in a blog on the hub by Sling the Mesh founder Kath Sansom.[5] Redress A central focus of the report is the need for greater support for the women and children affected by the medical interventions covered by the IMMDS Review. Related to this, one of the key recommendations of the Review was to establish a new independent Redress Agency for those harmed by medicines and medical devices. It was envisioned that: “The Redress Agency will administer decisions using a non-adversarial process with determinations based on avoidable harm looking at systemic failings, rather than blaming individuals.”[1] However, the Government rejected this recommendation, along with a recommendation to establish separate redress schemes for patients adversely affected by hormone pregnancy tests, sodium valproate and pelvic mesh. Instead they pointed towards patients having the right to take healthcare providers to court through clinical negligence, or manufacturers through product liability. Patient Safety Learning believes, like many individual patients and patient groups, that this response was wholly unsatisfactory. A new blog published on the hub this week highlights how for many harmed patients affected by the interventions considered in the report the clinical negligence route simply is not viable.[6] In the absence of any system of redress, this leaves them with no assistance to help meet the cost of any additional care and support they may need. The Committee’s report notes that the Minister Maria Caulfield MP has indicated that she is willing to look at the idea of a Redress Agency, as well as separate redress schemes. We would welcome this and support the Committee’s call for a formal statement on this with “more details on what such a review would include and seek to achieve, and timeline for completion”.[2] Audit of mesh patients Another recommendation of the IMMDS Review was for a retrospective audit of women who had pelvic mesh surgery, to help gain a fuller understanding of the nature and extent of mesh associated complications, with this data informing decisions over future pelvic mesh surgery. The Committee’s report notes that while this audit is underway, there are significant concerns that it is failing to adequately capture mesh related complications due to the data it draws on. The report therefore recommends that the Government “consider an alternative strategy for how to pro-actively contact those who have had the procedure about their post-operative experiences and possible side effects.”[2] Patient Safety Learning supports this recommendation, which echoes the IMMDS Review’s intentions that as part of this audit: “Every effort should be made to obtain sufficient data, and the audit results (assuming it is feasible) should be used to inform decisions over the future of pelvic mesh surgery.”[1] Patient Safety Commissioner The Committee’s report also stresses its support for the work of the new Patient Safety Commissioner for England, Dr Henrietta Hughes, urging the Secretary of State to ensure her duties and responsibilities are not impeded by a lack of resource for and within her office. It suggests that any additional work she may be tasked with relating to reviewing redress arrangements should be accompanied by additional resources. Patient Safety Learning supports this recommendation. The Patient Safety Commissioner can play an important role in helping to tackle unsafe care and empowering patients; however, her office must have the necessary resources and support to achieve this as indicated by the Select Committee. Engaging with patients At Patient Safety Learning, we believe that patient engagement is key to improving patient safety and identify this as one of the six foundations of safer care in our report, A Blueprint for Action.[7] Patients should be engaged for safety at the point of care, if things go wrong, in improving services, advocating for changes and in holding the system to account. We concur therefore with the Committee’s calls for the Department of Health and Social Care to improve its approach to this, following concerns raised by patients and patient groups: “We are concerned that although the letter from the Department seems to outline various interactions and consultations with stakeholders, and mentions Sling the Mesh by name, this is not the experience of some patients. Patient input is vital in setting up care schemes such as this one. We therefore urge the Department to reflect on the experience of some of the stakeholders with lived experience in this instance, and to consider how to improve engagement with them in the future.”[2] Hormone pregnancy tests One area of disappointment though that we would note with the Select Committee’s report is that it does not consider any of these issues in relation to patients and family members affected by hormone pregnancy tests, one of the three interventions covered by the IMMDS Review. They state that they were unable to do so due to ‘ongoing litigation’. Patient Safety Learning does not believe this is acceptable. Many of the issues covered by this review, such as reforms to the MHRA, a register of clinicians’ interests and industry payments and potentially revisiting proposals for an independent Redress Agency, equally concern those affected by hormone pregnancy tests. While this may be complicated in some areas by ongoing legal proceedings, the exclusion of this group of patients is in our view impossible to justify. You can read more about this issue, and the work being done by patients and groups to fight for justice and improve patient safety, in an interview on the hub with the Chair of the Association for Children Damaged by Hormone Pregnancy Tests, Marie Lyon.[8] References The IMMDS Review, First Do No Harm: The report of the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review, 8 July 2020. Health and Social Care Select Committee, Follow-up on the IMMDS report and the Government’s response: Sixth Report of Session 2022-23, 20 January 2023. Patient Safety Learning, A year on from the Cumberlege Review: Initial reflections on the Government’s response, 23 July 2021. MHRA, Patient Involvement Strategy 2021-25, 1 October 2021. Kath Sansom, No such thing as a free lunch – why recording conflicts of interests must be mandatory, 9 April 2021. Kath Sansom, The difficult of medical negligence cases and why financial redress from the Government is so important for mesh victims, 17 January 2023. Patient Safety Learning, The Patient-Safe Future: A Blueprint for Action, 2019. Patient Safety Learning, Patient Safety Spotlight interview with Marie Lyon, chair of the Association for Children Damaged by Hormone Pregnancy Tests, 22 February 2022.
  4. Content Article
    This report follows on from an evidence session held by the Select Committee on the 13 December 2022 to assess the Government’s progress against recommendations made in the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety (IMMDS) report, First Do No Harm. This featured contributions from the Government Minister Maria Caulfield MP, patients and patient groups, and representatives from NHS England and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Summary of the reports recommendations The Government should: Urgently ensure that the accepted recommendations 6 and 7 of the IMMDS review are fully implemented. Consider an alternative strategy for how to pro-actively contact pelvic mesh patients who have had the procedure about their post-operative experiences and possible side effects. Make the arrangements necessary to ensure the register of clinicians’ interests can be set up swiftly, subject to the pilot phase concluding, to prevent further delay. Move at pace to bring in the necessary secondary legislation to set this up a register of industry payments to clinicians. Ensure that the Patient Safety Commissioner for England’s ability to carry out her important role, as her duties and responsibilities is more clearly defined, is not impeded by a lack of resource for and within her office. The Department of Health and Social Care should: Respond to concerns raised about interactions and consultations with stakeholders around care schemes stemming from the review, reflecting on this experience and considering how to improve engagement with them in the future. The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care should: Make a statement detailing the Patient Safety Commissioner’s review of redress schemes for the medical interventions dealt with by the IMMDS review, and what additional resources will be made available to her to undertake it. The Minister for Mental Health and Women’s Strategy should: Make a statement on the review of redress and a possible Redress Agency, with more details on what such a review would include and seek to achieve, and timeline for completion.
  5. Content Article
    It’s so important that mesh-injured women are able to access redress for their injuries, many of which are life-changing. Often, financial support is not a bonus but is necessary, as women have had to leave their jobs or reduce their hours to cope, move to accessible housing or sell their home to live with family. Many have also experienced marriage breakdown as a result of mesh complications. One in four women in Sling The Mesh need a stick to help them walk, so need to pay for mobility aids or scooters, and there are also the ongoing costs of travel to doctors and hospital appointments. Waiting times are up to four years for mesh removal, so many women cash in savings or pensions to pay for private removal which costs thousands. The psychological impact of mesh injuries also takes a toll and with long NHS mental health waiting lists, many turn to the private sector for counselling for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and trauma. Likewise, many women have difficulty accessing NHS Physiotherapy so turn to the private sector for specialised physio to help mobilise internal pelvic scar tissue which can cause ongoing pain after mesh removal. The concept of redress is about proactively correcting a wrong that has been done to a group or individual. It differs from clinical negligence, which is about identifying and proving that the actions of an individual healthcare professional or service caused specific harm. Redress involves an authority taking responsibility for harm that has been caused under its watch, whereas clinical negligence is an adversarial process with strict legal boundaries. In 2020, the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety (IMMDS) Review’s report, ‘First Do No Harm’ (Cumberlege Review), called for “a new independent Redress Agency for those harmed by medicines and medical devices” to be created, based on models operating effectively in other countries.[1] This Agency was to offer women harmed by mesh a specific, non-adversarial route to compensation. However, in its official response to the report, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) rejected this recommendation, stating that “while the government is sympathetic to the experiences of those patients who gave evidence to the report, our primary focus is on improving future medicines and medical devices safety.”[2] The Government's failure to accept the IMMDS recommendations around setting up a Redress Agency means that the clinical negligence system is the only route left to women to pursue financial compensation, and it is a long, onerous process that is often unsuccessful. Sarah’s story - failures in the clinical negligence route Sarah* has spent the last two years fighting for redress through a clinical negligence case because of injuries following pelvic mesh surgery. Over the past few years, she has gone through two episodes of mesh erosion, two surgeries and an episode of sepsis. Since the mesh device was implanted, she has also experienced fibromyalgia and arthritis of the sacroiliac joints. She recently received a letter from the Head of Clinical Negligence at the law firm she was working with, informing her that they would not take her case forward. It was unlikely to be successful as she had her surgery before complications for mesh surgery were fully understood, and prior to 2013 when National Institute for Health and Care and Excellence (NICE) guidelines for urinary stress incontinence were changed. The letter stated: "The difficulty with your claim is that your TVT/mesh insertion surgery took place quite some time ago in 2007 when this was considered to be the gold standard to treat stress urinary incontinence, because the mesh surgery was quick, relatively simple and did not require a prolonged stay in hospital. It was only later on that the problems with mesh and the risks associated with mesh became fully known.” "A court would assess your claim based on the state of medical knowledge and expertise that existed at the time you had the mesh surgery in April 2007, with the problems and risks associated with mesh only becoming known at a later stage. "Consequently, a court will take the view that the consultant advising you at the time of your surgery in 2007 could only advise you based on the state of medical knowledge that existed at that time and cannot be held legally to blame for the treatment and advice that he gave you, if the risks associated with mesh only became apparent afterwards. "Therefore, unfortunately, further to the above we believe that if your claim proceeded further with the commencement of court proceedings, we would not have a reasonable prospect of success." It is my view that, given the evidence of harm caused by pelvic mesh, a woman who underwent surgery in 2007 should be equally entitled to redress as a woman who had surgery much later. I highlighted the issue with Helen Hughes, Chief Executive of Patient Safety Learning, who responded, “When responding to the IMMDS Review, the Government rejected a recommendation to introduce a separate redress scheme for mesh on the basis that patients could take healthcare providers to court for clinical negligence, or manufacturers for product liability. However, as this case sadly illustrates, the legal complexities involved in this means that for many mesh-injured patients this is simply not an option, leaving them with no alternative route to help meet the cost of any additional care and support they may need.” A national Redress Agency is the only way to offer equitable redress A Redress Agency specifically aimed at women with pelvic mesh injuries would offer a more equitable, compassionate route to secure compensation. As well as women having a higher chance of success going through a Redress Agency, women would not be forced to face the stress of legal action that often lasts for years while dealing with the pain and limitations they live with as a result of their injuries. At the moment, it does not appear that the political will or financial provision exists to make this a reality. *name changed for anonymity Related reading Tokenism in patient engagement is unethical—but it is also dangerous. A blog by Kath Sansom Doctors’ shocking comments reveal institutional misogyny towards women harmed by pelvic mesh - a Patient Safety Learning blog “There’s no problem with the mesh”: A personal account of the struggle to get vaginal mesh removal surgery References 1 First Do No Harm. The report of the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review, 8 July 2020 2 Government response to the report of the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review, 21 July 2021
  6. News Article
    There is a "moral case" for compensation to be paid to people affected by the contaminated blood scandal, the government has said. But Paymaster General Jeremy Quin told MPs he could not commit to a timetable. In August, the government announced that 4,000 UK victims would receive interim payments of £100,000. Tens of thousands of people contracted HIV or hepatitis C in the 1970s and 80s after being given infected blood. In September, modelling by a group of academics commissioned by the public inquiry estimated that 26,800 people were infected after being given contaminated transfusions between 1970 and 1991. The study calculated that 1,820 of those died as a result, but that the number could be as high as 3,320. The inquiry, chaired by retired High Court judge Sir Brian Langstaff, began taking evidence in 2018. The interim compensation announcement in August came after Sir Brian argued there was a compelling case to make payments quickly - saying victims were on borrowed time because of their failing health. Payments have been made to those whose health is failing after developing hepatitis C and HIV, and partners of people who have died. But families have complained that many people affected, such as bereaved parents, missed out. Read full story Source: BBC News, 15 December 2022
  7. Content Article
    What is an Early Day Motion? Early Day Motions are motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons for which no day has been fixed, and as such very few are debated. They are used to put on record the views of individual MPs or to draw attention to specific events or campaigns. By attracting the signatures of other MPs, they can be used to demonstrate the level of parliamentary support for a particular cause or point of view. Early Day Motion 349: Financial redress for victims of surgical mesh, sodium valproate and hormone pregnancy tests This Early Day Motion has been signed by Sarah Green, Jim Shannon and Jonathan Edwards. It reads as follows: That this House regrets the avoidable harm caused by the use of surgical mesh, Primodos and Sodium Valproate; acknowledges the need to support the hundreds of victims in the UK suffering as a result of these interventions; welcomes the recommendations made by Baroness Cumberlege in her 2020 report on the IMMDS Review; notes that recommendation 4 of this report calls for the establishment of separate schemes to meet the costs of additional care and support to those who have suffered avoidable harm; regrets that in the two years since the report's publication, the Government has refused to accept this recommendation; further regrets the suggestion that victims should pursue legal routes to compensation, which fails to recognise the adversarial nature and inaccessibility of litigation; and calls on the Government to establish separate schemes to provide financial redress to the victims of surgical mesh, sodium valproate and hormone pregnancy tests, as recommended by the Cumberlege report. Related reading Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review, First Do No Harm, July 2020 Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review: A joint letter from the Association for Children Damaged by Hormone Pregnancy Tests, Sling The Mesh and In-Fact, 17 February 2022 Patient Safety Learning, A year on from the Cumberlege Review: Initial reflections on the Government’s response, 23 July 2021 Early Day Motion - Implementation of the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review recommendations
  8. News Article
    A scheme handing payments to those affected by the contaminated blood scandal will be announced this week, as ministers scramble to help those harmed by the “historic wrong”. Whitehall sources confirmed that a programme handing interim payments will be confirmed in the coming days, once officials have ironed out issues to ensure that victims are not taxed on the payments or have their benefits affected by them. It is thought that ministers accept recent recommendations that infected people and bereaved partners should get “payments of no less than £100,000”. More than 4,000 people are in line for the payment. Kit Malthouse, the cabinet office minister, has been prioritising the scheme in the last week to ensure payments are made as soon as possible. “The infected blood scandal was a tragedy for everyone involved, and the prime minister strongly believes that all those who suffered so terribly as a result of this injustice should receive compensation as quickly as possible,” said a No 10 source. “He has tasked ministers with resolving this issue so that interim payments can be made to all those infected as soon as possible, and we will set out the full details later this week.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 6 August 2022
  9. Content Article
    Asked to share the worst things doctors have said to them, members of the 9,600-strong Sling The Mesh support group responded by sharing a huge number of outrageous comments; comments that are belittling, misogynistic and demonstrate the scale of mass institutional denial. These accounts are not limited to one doctor, specialty or area, they concern surgeons, consultants and GPs from across the UK. There will be many doctors shocked and horrified by the comments shared by mesh-injured women, but there are clearly those whose attitudes and behaviours are completely unacceptable. Comments made by doctors included: asking one woman who could no longer have vaginal sex because of extreme pain to consider anal sex women being told they shouldn't be having sex over 50 women being accused of exaggerating their pain or being an “awkward patient” being told to go home and have a glass of prosecco, and that “at least they don’t have cancer” being told “your husband should be pleased” with the results of the surgery suggesting women were neurotic and sending them for psychiatric assessments. One woman who reported this response was later found to have brittle plastic mesh slicing through her vaginal wall, causing agonising pain. Kath Sansom, founder of Sling the Mesh, shared these accounts with us, saying, “These comments are loaded with arrogance, lack of compassion and a failure of empathy, and they offer a shocking picture of the failure of individuals in the healthcare system to listen and respond to women. They have all been made by doctors, in the face of a clear evidence base for the avoidable harm caused by surgical mesh.”[1][2] Patient Safety Learning has included all of these comments in this community post, without attribution to ensure confidentiality. They are shocking and disquieting to read. Evidence of harm and the IMMDS Review It was patients themselves who first raised the alarm about mesh complications and lack of adequate support. Following years of patient-led campaigning, their battle to be heard and taken seriously finally saw a measure of success when pelvic mesh was included in the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety (IMMDS) Review in February 2018, chaired by Baroness Julia Cumberlege. The IMMDS Review’s report, 'First Do No Harm', was published in July 2020 and highlighted the lack of research evidence about safety aspects of pelvic mesh, the failure of the health system to listen to women injured by mesh and a lack of awareness among doctors about mesh complications. Women still aren’t being listened to The First Do No Harm report recommended a system of redress for women injured by mesh, but this has not materialised. Instead, they face ongoing medical gaslighting for injuries that have resulted for many in pain, loss of sex-life, marriage breakdown, job loss and permanent disability. The comments shared in this blog relate to women’s experiences over time, and it’s clear that the NHS still has much work to do to address the inequality and misogynism they demonstrate. In April 2021 the Government held a call for evidence to inform the development of its proposed Women’s Health Strategy. In December they published a policy paper setting out the Government’s vision for the new strategy.[3] It highlighted the need to tackle the fact that the health system still too often does not listen to serious concerns raised by women. This will require further investigation of themes such as the quality of conversations and shared decision making, the role of information, education and training for healthcare professionals and how to embed changes within clinical practice. In their policy paper, the Department of Health and Social Care states that: “We will publish a strategy that will set out more detailed delivery plans against each theme and against specific health needs and conditions, aligned with this vision. In the strategy we will set out concrete proposals both on issues that only affect women and girls, and on issues that affect everyone but where there are sex-based differences in prevalence, experience, or outcomes. This strategy will be published in spring 2022.”[3] Helen Hughes, Chief Executive of Patient Safety Learning said, “Sex and gender bias in healthcare pose a serious risk to patient safety. We believe that women, and patient groups representing women, must be given ample opportunity to voice their concerns and to be listened to, believed and their concerns acted upon. . At the heart of this equality issue is the demand that women are treated fairly and with dignity. There must be zero tolerance of the dreadful misogynistic behaviour experienced by these mesh injured women, victims of avoidable harm.” Related reading “There’s no problem with the mesh”: A personal account of the struggle to get vaginal mesh removal surgery ‘Mesh removal surgery is a postcode lottery’ - patients harmed by surgical mesh need accessible, consistent treatment A year on from the Cumberlege Review: Initial reflections on the Government’s response (Patient Safety Learning, 23 July 2021) References 1 E McFadden, S Lay-Flurrie, C Koshiaris et al. The long-term impact of vaginal surgical mesh devices in UK primary care: a cohort study in the CPRD. Clinical Epidemiology. 4 August 2021 2 Tervaert, J. Autoinflammatory/autoimmunity syndrome induced by adjuvants in patients after a polypropylene mesh implantation. Best Practice & Research Clinical Rheumatology. 1 August 2018 3 Our Vision for the Women's Health Strategy for England. Department of Health and Social Care. 23 December 2021
  10. Content Article
    If you have had vaginal mesh surgery as an NHS patient in England and have suffered any of the above symptoms/problems, you may be able to make a claim against the NHS. In addition to side effects, you may be able to claim for implants that were not inserted correctly and/or on the basis that you were given the wrong information or advice. On the NHS Resolution website you can find more information on making a claim and details of organisations which can help you find a medical negligence solicitor who can guide you through the process and let you know if you have a valid claim.
  11. News Article
    An epilepsy drug that caused disabilities in thousands of babies after being prescribed to pregnant women could be more dangerous than previously thought. Sodium valproate could be triggering genetic changes that mean disabilities are being passed on to second and even third generations, according to the UK’s medicines regulator. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has also raised concerns that the drug can affect male sperm and fertility, and may be linked to miscarriages and stillbirths. Ministers are already under pressure after it emerged in April that valproate was still being prescribed to women without the legally required warnings. Six babies a month are being born after having been exposed to the drug, the MHRA has said. It can cause deformities, autism and learning disabilities. Cat Smith, the Labour chairwoman of the all-party parliamentary group on sodium valproate, said: “This transgenerational risk is very concerning. There have been rumours that this was a possibility, but I had never heard it was accepted until last week by the MHRA." “The harm from sodium valproate was caused by successive failures of regulators and governments, and this news means it could be an order of magnitude worse than we first thought. It underlines the need for the Treasury to step up to their responsibilities around financial redress to those families.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: Sunday Times, 19 June 2022
  12. Content Article
    On 22 September 2021 the Health and Social Care Select Committee launched a new inquiry examining the case for reform of NHS litigation, identifying concerns regarding a significant increase in clinical negligence costs and missed opportunities for learning to improve patient safety. The Committee stated that the existing system was “failing to meet its objectives for both families and the healthcare system”.[1] Here we will provide an overview of our response to this Inquiry, which focused on four key areas: Learning from avoidable harm in healthcare Improving redress for patients The role of the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch Financial burden of avoidable harm and resulting litigation You can read our written evidence in full here [2] Learning from avoidable harm in healthcare In our report, A Blueprint for Action, we set out what we believe is needed to progress towards a patient-safe future, identifying six foundations of safe care.[3] Sharing learning to improve patient safety is one of those six foundations. For patients to be safer, we believe that people and organisations need to share learning when they respond to incidents of avoidable harm, and when they develop good practice for making care safer. Incidents in healthcare that result in clinical negligence claims often present a significant opportunity for learning, through the process of investigating what went wrong and the actions needed to prevent harm reoccurring. Insights from these cases may often be applicable beyond the organisation in which the incident took place and provide a point for wider system learning. NHS Resolution, the body responsible for providing expertise to the NHS on resolving concerns and disputes, play a key role in this. When clinicians are contacted as experts on litigation cases by a representative from the NHS Resolution ‘Panel of Solicitors’ they are asked to feedback any general points of learning to be shared across the NHS. In our response to the Inquiry, we explained that it is our understanding that NHS Resolution takes this learning and feeds it back into the system primarily: Through their members – sharing information with NHS Resolution member organisations on individual cases, which can be used to subsequently inform their own organisational clinical governance and patient safety processes. For wider learning – these inform NHS Resolution’s in-depth reviews and studies on specific subject areas, such as their guide published with the Getting It Right First Time programme to support learning from clinical negligence claims, and their thematic review Learning from suicide-related claims.[4] [5] NHS Resolution have advised us that due to the nature of the information involved in clinical negligence cases, for a combination of privacy, personal sensitivity, and legal reasons they are limited in the ways they can share these insights for learning and improvement. We stated in our response that although there is clearly a degree of complexity involved with sharing such insights more widely, Patient Safety Learning believes that we are missing an enormous and valuable opportunity to extract significant system-wide learning that should improve patient safety. We believe that that insights from litigation could be used to inform regular publicly available reports which could help to: Share rapidly valuable information and opportunities for learning from litigation. Enable the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and NHS Improvement, Care Quality Commission, Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch, the incoming Patient Safety Commissioner’s in England and Scotland, and others to identify emerging patient safety trends/concerns. Impact of the new Patient Safety Incident Response Framework Another area we highlighted in our Inquiry response concerned learning from avoidable harm in healthcare, and how this interacts with NHS litigation, in the context of how organisations are expected to investigate error and harm through the new NHS Patient Safety Incident Response Framework.[6] The implementation of this framework, as currently proposed, will result in fewer investigations into harm. NHS organisations are being invited to consider other methods for learning such as thematic reviews and After Action Reviews. Implementation arrangements will need to be carefully managed to ensure that opportunities for learning and improvement will not be compromised nor will patients and families be frustrated in being informed of what happened and why following a patient safety incident/event. If patients and families do not feel that the new arrangements provide them with the answers they seek and are expected to be provided with as part of the Duty of Candour, we noted that this could also lead to the unintended consequence of an increase in complaints and even an increased chance of patients and families choosing to pursue litigation. Improving redress for patients Bound up with reform of NHS litigation is the issue of redress for avoidable harm in healthcare. Responding to the Inquiry we noted that the Government had recently set out a formal position on this issue through its response to the recommendations of the IMMDS Review (also known as the Cumberlege Review). The Review proposed the creation of an independent Redress Agency for those harmed by medicines and medical devices.[7] It suggested that this should be set up on an avoidable harm basis, focused on systematic failings, rather than blaming individuals, and provide an approach to make decisions using a non-adversarial process. In their full response to the Review's recommendations in July, the Government rejected this proposal.[8] In our response to this Inquiry, we outlined our concerns about the Government’s two main reasons for rejecting this proposal: 1. There is already an existing process in place where the Government can establish redress schemes for specific issues. We believe the existing process is likely to create inconsistencies in how patients injured by avoidable harm are treated. It is particularly hard to see how such a system can be seen as fair when there is no publicly available rationale or criteria provided to clarify what issues are considered as appropriate for redress. In the case of the example provided of the Infected Blood Support Scheme, it has taken 40 years of campaigning before this has been eventually announced. It is hard to see how harmed patients can have confidence that the existing approach to considering decisions on redress is transparent, fair, consistent, or timely. 2. This would not make products safe or drive the right incentives for industry. The IMMDS Review makes the case for an independent Redress Agency as improving patient safety by encouraging greater reporting and transparency, supported by a non-adversarial process which looks to systematic failings, rather than blaming individuals.[7] In its response the Government simply fails to engage with this point or argument in a meaningful way. The need to reconsider redress We told the Committee that Patient Safety Learning believes that to improve the redress process the Government should reconsider its approach and engage more meaningfully with the proposal in the IMMDS Review. We believe there are several issues it would be worth considering as part of this: Benefit to harmed patients in having a straightforward process and is accessible to all, equally. Potential for learning and identification of new and emerging issues because of having claims run through a central body. Potential benefits and drawbacks of introducing a no-fault compensation scheme. A cost-benefit analysis on the type of Redress Agency proposed, as opposed to the existing approach. How this may support a more open and supportive culture in relation to how NHS organisations respond to complaints and whether this may help to move away from a defensive response in some cases. Ensuring that redress is not just focused solely on financial compensation but should be part of openly acknowledging mistakes, learning for improvement and healing, for patients, families and staff involved. The role of the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch Patient Safety Learning is strongly supportive of the role of HSIB investigations in identifying factors that have harmed or may harm patients, and their safety recommendations aimed at improving healthcare systems and processes. In its Terms of Reference, the Inquiry asked how HSIB can improve short term responses to patient safety incidents and therefore reduce the number of those who are forced to pursue litigation as a means of obtaining non-financial remedies.[9] In our response we outlined two significant issues which may limit their ability of HSIB to reduce the number of incidents that lead to avoidable harm and thus reduce litigation: 1. Capacity for national investigations HSIB is significantly limited by its capacity, currently it is only able to conduct up to thirty national investigations a year. This requires a significant degree of prioritisation against their investigation criteria, which means that for many issues where avoidable harm continues to occur, they will simply not be able to investigate and make safety recommendations. In cases where HSIB does not have the capacity to investigate, patients and their families who raise issues are dependent on local investigations, where learning may stay siloed in the organisation in question, rather than shared more widely for national learning and action. 2. Implementation of recommendations When HSIB makes its safety recommendations, organisations are expected to respond within 90 days of publication of the investigation reports and HSIB subsequently shares these responses on their website. However, while organisations are required to respond, there is no compulsion for them to accept or implement HSIB recommendations. Furthermore, there is no system of oversight to monitor or assess the effectiveness or impact of implementation. Without such a system, it is difficult to assess the impact of a safety recommendation in terms of preventing a recurrence of patient safety incidents that may result in harm and then future litigation. We believe that this is a matter of huge importance; without this formal public accountability and oversight, it is difficult to see how patients can feel confident that action is being taken to address the systemic cause of errors that result in avoidable harm. Financial burden of avoidable harm and resulting litigation In our response to the Inquiry, we also reflected on the significant financial costs that accompanies avoidable harm in healthcare. The cost of settling claims in the NHS in 2020/21 came to £2.26 billion, with a further £7.9 billion spent on compensation claims settled in previous years.[10] We argued that the current costs of NHS litigation should be a clear signal to the Government that avoidable harm is not simply a serious health challenge, but also a major economic problem. The burden of costs are not only felt by the healthcare system in compensation costs, but also in the additional support that may be needed by harmed patients after an event and the indirect social cost of harm more generally.[11] While this remains unaddressed, scarce funds that could be spent to proactively improve the quality of care will instead be needed to deal with the cost of error and harm. We made the case that if we are to tackle the significant costs associated with this, we need to tackle the root cause of the problem. The most effective way to do this is to improve patient safety in healthcare, to reduce the level of avoidable harm, thus decreasing the associated costs of litigation, remedial support, and ongoing care. Conclusion In the conclusion of our response to the Inquiry, we noted that the issue of NHS litigation reform needs to be considered as part of a wider context, acknowledging that the main causes of unsafe care are systemic. Avoidable harm in healthcare has complex roots and to make real progress we need to address these underlying system issues. Patient Safety Learning believes that there needs to be a transformation in our approach to tackling this problem with patient safety being treated as core to the purpose of health and social care, not as one of several competing priorities to be traded off against each other. In our report, A Blueprint for Action, we set out an evidence-based analysis of why harm is so persistent and what is needed to deliver a transformation in our approach to patient safety.[3] Reform to NHS litigation forming a key part of this. 1. Health and Social Care Select Committee, New inquiry: NHS litigation reform, 22 September 2021 2. Health and Social Care Select Committee, NHS Litigation Reform: Written evidence submitted by Patient Safety Learning (NLR0059), 2 November 2021 3. Patient Safety Learning, The Patient-Safe Future: A Blueprint For Action. Report, 2019 4. GIRFT and NHS Resolution, Learning from Litigation Claims, May 2021 5. NHS Resolution, Learning from suicide-related claims: A thematic review of NHS Resolution data, September 2018 6. NHS England and NHS Improvement, Patient Safety Incident Response Framework, Last Accessed 19 October 2021 7. The IMMDS Review, First Do No Harm, July 2020 8. Department of Health and Social Care, Government response to the Report of the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review, 26 July 2021 9. Health and Social Care Select Committee, NHS litigation reform: Terms of Reference, Last Accessed 1 November 2021 10. NHS Resolution, Annual report and accounts 2020/21, 15 July 2021 11. OECD and Saudi Patient Safety Center, The Economics of Patient Safety. From analysis to action, 21 October 2020