Leading Medical Law Experts Welcomes Strategy to Prevent NHS Deaths

2nd July 2019

NHS plans that will aim to save 1,000 lives a year, by promoting a culture of openness that will ensure lessons are learnt from past errors, have today been welcomed by leading medical law experts.

Under a radical strategy, all staff, including cleaners and porters, will be trained to act if they notice risks, and a dedicated expert will be required at every hospital who all nurses and doctors can approach to raise concerns and help to prevent future tragedies.

The Telegraph.co.uk has reported that the plans are due to be announced at a conference in Manchester today, and come amidst concerns that around 11,000 lives a year maybe being lost as a result of safety failings.

Ian Cohen, Head of Medical Negligence at law firm Simpson Millar, welcomes the announcement.

He said: “The plans outlined in the report identify a number of areas for improvement, as well as a clear strategy for how to address them and make positive changes that will directly impact patient safety moving forward.

“Such measures have been a long time coming, and it’s a relief to hear that some action is being taken to avoid losing thousands of lives every year - lives which could be saved by improved systems throughout our health care services. 

“Many of our clients whose lives have been devastated as a result of negligence whilst in the care of the NHS say they do not feel that lessons are learnt and shared in such a way as to prevent future suffering.

“We are therefore delighted to hear that all staff, no matter how junior, will be trained to spot risks and act accordingly and that a dedicated expert will be appointed to encourage medical staff to raise matters of concern.

“A very good starting place would be to fully embrace the statutory duty of candour which has been in place since April 2015.

“This duty has already established that all healthcare professionals must be open and honest with patients when something goes wrong with their treatment or care. A just culture will, therefore, come from the top and from strong leadership embracing and enforcing this duty of candour.”

According to media reports, the plans include more efforts to use technology to reduce the number of drug errors and prevent falls in hospitals, by identifying frail patients and implementing improved risk assessment and surveillance efforts in maternity wards.

The plan also states that staff should be given more support when speaking up about errors in a bid to ensure that errors are identified and learnt from in order to prevent recurrence.

Cohen added: “The plans outlined in this strategy further complement the NHS Resolution’s mediation efforts which provide medical staff with an opportunity to hear first-hand the impact that errors made as a result of a failure to follow correct procedures can have on a patient.

“This is about learning from past tragedies and putting plans in place to prevent future harm for others - ultimately working to improve patient care and provide the adequate support NHS staff.”

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