Clear leadership and a coherent strategy are needed urgently if the patient safety crisis is to be resolved, a leading campaign organisation has warned.
“The current patchwork quilt of well-meaning but disparate initiatives has failed to improve patient safety and thereby reduce the subsequent costs, in terms of human misery as well as costs to the NHS,” said Neil McKinley, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).
Mr McKinley’s comments came after publication today (2 November) of responses to the Health and Social Care Select Committee’s inquiry into NHS litigation reform.
“The solution lies within current Government policy,” he said. “A new Patient Safety Commissioner is to be appointed, but the remit of the role is too narrow.
“It should be extended beyond medicines and medical devices to provide proper strategic coordination and an over-arching link between patients, regulators, healthcare providers and policymakers.”
And Mr McKinley warned against any possible reform which might restrict an injured patient’s right to full and fair compensation.
“The purpose of compensation is to help patients put their lives back together when they have been harmed needlessly after trusting the NHS to help them,” he said.
Since 2010 NHS organisations have been required to report all patient safety incidents which result in severe harm or death. During that time no progress has been made in reducing the number of incidents. In fact, between 2010/11 and 2019/20 the number of these incidents increased by two per cent.*
“This is the problem which must be addressed urgently,” said Mr McKinley. “Vulnerable patients who put their trust in the NHS must have the confidence that they will not be harmed by doing so.”