19 / 11 / 2014 10.52am
Following the Francis Report in 2013 safety and quality has been the rallying cry of the NHS. There are few, if any, NHS organisations that do not have these words and their commitment to them very visible in their vision statements, values and corporate objectives. Why? Because this reassures the patient, the relative, the commissioner, and the inspector, that the organisation cares. The Secretary of State for Health launched the high profile ‘Sign up to Safety’ campaign in June 2014 with the aim of halving avoidable harms, and saving 6000 lives a year. Academic Health Science Networks were established to deliver step change in the way the NHS identifies, develops and adopts new technologies. Each one is leading patient safety collaborative.
My point is that patient safety is a priority and scientists have an impact on patient safety.
Do patients realise the contribution made to their safety by healthcare scientists? Probably not. And if not, why not? At least part of the answer lies in a) the recognition of scientists generally; and b) the lack of a comprehensive understanding of what this profession has to offer.
The Academy for Healthcare Science exists for two compelling reasons. To provide a single, credible voice for all healthcare science disciplines thereby ensuring a wider, populous reach by ‘the forgotten many’; and to secure a common commitment to registration and regulation of all healthcare scientists, so that their contribution, their passion and their regard for patients is as clearly understood as that of doctors and nurses.
I absolutely believe that the contribution of scientists should be celebrated, just like other clinical staff. But I also believe that scientists should be easily recognised as being subject to the same of sort of regulation and registration as their other clinical colleagues. Registration for scientists is not in every case compulsory. It could be argued that this voluntary aspect makes registration for scientists even more reassuring to both patients, and the organisations that employ them. Amongst other things, it demonstrates that they too, are about safety and quality. The Health and Care Professions Council says that statutory regulation for scientists gives ‘a huge badge of respectability, professionalism and endorsement’. The landscape of registers can be confusing, but we were gratified that the Government’s response to the House of Commons Health Committee Report of Session 2014-15: accountability hearing with the Health and Care Professions Council stated that the Academy for Healthcare Science’s voluntary register offers ‘assurance that is appropriate and proportionate to the risks presented to public safety’ and they noted that the overriding purpose of regulation is public protection.
I would pose the question to NHS employers, “why not insist on your scientific workforce being on a register since they have a significant impact on your patients’ experiences and your organisations reputation?” and I would issue the following invitation – visit our website www.ahcs.ac.uk and check us out.