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Government sets out patient safety plans

The Government has published its response to the Mid Staffordshire Inquiry, in which it sets out its plans to instil more openness, greater accountability and a relentless focus on safety within the NHS in England.

“Today’s measures are a blueprint for restoring trust in the NHS, reinforcing professional pride in NHS frontline staff and above all giving confidence to patients,” said Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. “I want every patient in every hospital to have confidence that they will be given the best and safest care and the way to do that is to be completely open and transparent.”

New changes in response to the independent recommendations include:

  • Safe staffing: from next April, all hospitals will publish staffing levels on a ward-by-ward basis together with the percentage of shifts meeting safe staffing guidelines. This will be mandatory and will be done on a monthly basis. By the end of next year this will be done using models approved independently by NICE.
  • A new national safety website will publish all the information relevant to safety in every hospital in the country on a monthly basis, so that patients have the same information about their hospitals that the system has.
  • A new national patient safety programme across England will spread best practice and build safety skills across the country. NHS England will start the programme in April 2014 and will bring together frontline teams, experts, patients, commissioners and others to tackle specific patient safety problems, develop and test solutions, and learn from each other to improve safety.
  • Better reporting of safety incidents: Experts will be asked to advise the Government on how to improve reporting of safety incidents, including whether the statutory duty of candour on organisations should cover incidents of death and severe harm, or death, severe and moderate harm.
  • A new criminal offence for wilful neglect: the Government will legislate at the earliest available opportunity to make it an offence to wilfully neglect patients - so that organisations and staff, whether managers or clinicians, responsible for the very worst failures in care are held accountable.

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