Draft Health Service Safety Investigations Bill

The draft Health Service Safety Investigations Bill launched by the Government creates a Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) as an independent statutory body with legal powers to conduct investigations into patient safety incidents.

However, despite this, the Bill appears to explicitly prohibit HSIB from disclosing information even to the patient who has been affected or their family. In my view, which is shared by AVMA, this is a serious infringement of patient’s rights which undermines the progress that has been made with the introduction of the concept of duty of candour and efforts to create an open and fair culture. This was intended to encourage openness with patients, in particular where mistakes have been made.

The Bill is completely at odds with the recommendations of the Expert Advisory Group set up by the Department of Health to advise the HSIB.

Peter Walsh of AVMA who sat on the Advisory Group states “whilst we welcome the provisions for powers and independence for the HSIB… these affronts to patients’ rights would destroy public confidence in HSIB and NHS investigations and undermine recent advances in openness transparency and a just culture”.

Currently under the Patients Charter, any patient can raise a complaint with regard to treatment received from an NHS provider or healthcare provider within 6 months of the treatment complained of and the healthcare provider has a duty to investigate and respond to the complaint within 3 to 4 months.

It remains to be seen how the system will operate in practice and how trust can be established when things go wrong.

If you are affected by any issues in this article, please contact Parisa Costigan, specialist personal injury solicitor at Coole Bevis LLP on 01403 224608 or by email parisa.costigan@coolebevisllp.com.