Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Berwick report points the way to protect patient safety in the NHS

The Berwick report into NHS patient safety was released on August 6th. This report was requested by the Prime Minister from Professor Don Berwick a renowned international expert in patient safety, following on from the Francis report into the breakdown of care at Mid Staffordshire Hospitals.

The report details the advisory group’s summary and recommendations for the way forward view full report. Berwick also released three separate letters aimed at medical professionals, the public and the NHS leadership.

Quoting  from his letter to the public (View):"I have been asked to assemble and chair an Advisory Group to recommend some important actions that leaders, clinicians, professional bodies, government agencies and others could take to improve the quality and safety of care in the NHS.You will have read much in the public press that may alarm you about the patient care in the English NHS. After all, things did go quite wrong at Mid Staffs, and, like others, we believe that problems in care often occur throughout the NHS. In that, however, I assure you that the same can be said of every health care system in the world. Health care is complicated, and, even when the staff and clinicians are doing their very best (which is most of the time), errors occur and problems arise for patients that no-one intends."

"What you do have in the NHS is something that most other nations in the world don’t have: a unified system of care that is completely capable of identifying its problems, admitting them, and acting to correct them. That is the process now underway; that is the process that led your leaders to convene our Advisory Group; and that is the process that can and, I believe, will help the English NHS to emerge over time as one of the safest health care systems in the world. That is not easy. And it gets even harder if the staff of the NHS experience a culture of fear, blame, recrimination, and demoralization.
I hope that you resist such general negativity, in yourself and anyone else, and instead clearly point the way with energy and optimism toward the care that you and I want, and that the vast majority of people who work in the NHS want to offer."


The report outlines clear objectives view full report, but from the patients perspective it is clear that patient safety is best served when patients and carers are actively engaged in health care and their voices are heard and listened to.

NHS England’s response: “Don Berwick’s report is landing at exactly the right time for the NHS. He has highlighted many of the key areas that the NHS is actively addressing to give our patients quality care every time and support our staff to work with the right conditions for success this report demonstrates the passion for patient safety that so many in the NHS have and will be a touchstone for patient safety in the NHS for the next decade or more. NHS England accepts the challenges set in this report and will lead the way in responding”. View full NHS response.
The 10 key Berwick recommendations can be viewed here.
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