Safety for All Parliamentary Reception
Yesterday (12th July 2023), Carolyn Harris MP hosted a Parliamentary reception with MPs, Peers and representatives of the wider patient safety and healthcare community as part of the Safety for All campaign. The event was attended by over 50 guests including MPs, peers, NHS organisations, unions, frontline healthcare workers and patient safety campaigners.
Each year, thousands of patients in the UK suffer injuries or die as a result of avoidable harm in healthcare. The NHS estimate is that there are at least 11,000 avoidable deaths annually due to safety concerns. This figure is likely to be a serious underestimate given the current post-Covid pressures on primary care, social care and hospital care.
This personal and societal tragedy is accompanied by a huge financial cost, to the healthcare system, patients, and families. The OECD estimates that the direct cost of treating patients who have been harmed during their care in high-income countries from preventable incidents approaches 8.7% of health expenditure. The bill for NHS litigation alone came to £2.5bn last year, with a further £13.3bn spent on compensation claims settled in previous years.
Following the unprecedented impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has placed on health and social care, both the public and the healthcare sector believe politicians must prioritise the improvement of both patient and healthcare worker safety. At this reception politicians and members of the wider healthcare community discussed how we can harness the knowledge, enthusiasm and commitment of healthcare organisations, professionals and patients for system-wide change, to improve care and reduce avoidable harm to patients and healthcare workers.
In a speech at the reception, Dr. Henrietta Hughes, Patient Safety Commissioner for England, said: “This reception highlights the importance and interconnectivity of patient safety and healthcare worker safety. We need a seismic shift in the way that patients’ and families’ voices are heard. This requires changes in legislation, regulation, policy, commissioning, education, professionalism, attitudes, behaviours, and culture. In essence, everything we do as a healthcare system because everything we do is about patients.”
Dr. Paul Grime, Chairman of Safer Healthcare Biosafety Network (SHBN),said: “The SHBN has partnered with Patient Safety Learning since 2021 to run the ‘Safety for All’ campaign to improve practice in, and between, patient and healthcare worker safety to prevent safety incidents and deliver better outcomes for all. Over the last two years we have delivered a range of activities that would go some way to achieving this ambitious goal. We held our first Safety for All conference last December which was a great success with over 100 attendees and keynote speakers from the RCP, HSIB, the RCN and Dr Henrietta Hughes, the Patient Safety Commissioner.”
Greg Quinn, Chair of Patient Safety Group at ABHI, said: “Industry is actively supporting the NHS by helping to sustain a culture of safety, preventing patient safety events across the entire patient journey, implementing safe, innovative, and optimised technology and ensuring healthcare workers’ safety. A shift in approach is required to link health worker safety to patient safety, integrated diagnostics, quality improvement and infection prevention and control programmes at the system and point-of-care levels. This strategic direction can contribute to providing safer care, reducing costs due to health worker attrition, suboptimal productivity, patient readmission to hospitals, and building trust of patients and communities in the health system. The ABHI are very pleased to be supporting the work of the Safety for All campaign.”
Helen Hughes, Chief Executive of Patient Safety Learning, said: “At Patient Safety Learning we believe that patient safety should be the core purpose of health and social care, not just one of many priorities traded with others. This will require a transformation in approach to both patient safety and staff safety. To achieve this, we need everyone involved, politicians, medical directors, clinicians, patients, industry partners and patient safety experts. That’s why events like today’s reception are so important, to help bring together a wide range of people all with different safety roles and responsibilities – all united by their commitment to safer patient care.”