NHS Confederation and NHS Employers respond to Professor Don Berwick's report on patient safety

Nurse taking notes

04 / 3 / 2014 4.07pm

Sue Covill says Don Berwick's report contains valuable learning for the NHS and supports an evidence base to improvement.
NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar said:

"Professor Don Berwick has a global reputation for being prepared to go where others might fear to tread. Today's report is a product of his no-nonsense but highly intelligent approach, which recognises that the NHS can and must take advantage of every opportunity to learn and improve.

"Everyone working in the NHS is committed to ensuring patients experience safe, high quality health care. The findings and recommendations in the Francis report were shocking but we must not let them paralyse us; we must learn and look forwards. 

"The NHS is all about people and any service involving people includes risk. We cannot eliminate it completely, but we can and must identify it, reduce it and mitigate it. 

"Professor Berwick's comments on culture are spot on - we must do more to develop and protect every member of staff, every patient, and every visitor who speaks up to help maintain and improve safety. We have an army of eyes and ears at our disposal to identify the ways we can do things better - we must ensure every one of these people has a voice, so the case for continual improvement of patient safety cannot go unheard. 

"Blame and fear will get us nowhere. Professor Berwick's belief that a statutory duty of candour will not work for individuals seems sensible. The introduction of such a measure could have unintended consequences that increase rather than remove a climate of fear. However, we support such a duty for organisations, who we rightly expect to be transparent about their standards of care including critically when they fail.

"We look forward to working with the Government and the NHS on the specific recommendations of this report and how we can collectively work to improve the care we provide day in, day out."

Sue Covill, Director of Employment Services at the NHS Employers organisation, added:

"We welcome this report from Professor Don Berwick. It contains valuable learning for the NHS and supports an evidence base to improvement.

On the issue of staffing levels, Ms Covill said:

"We support Professor Berwick's view that staffing levels need to be determined through the evidence available to us, and are pleased he recognises there needs to be further development of the evidence base to support safer staffing." 

On the issue of healthcare assistants, Ms Covill said:

"We fully recognise the importance of training and support for healthcare assistants. Regulation only ever considers minimum standards and the NHS must strive to achieve more than just the basics. Regulation of healthcare assistants could have unintended consequences that could restrict the flexibility required within the workforce to meet the needs of patients."

She added:

"We must not be complacent about the occasions when things do go wrong. We must continually strive to reduce errors and to learn from them, sharing our learning across organisations. It is imperative that we support staff to identify and report where things go wrong and learn from best practice.

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