Government scheme to incentivise safety

A SCHEME to reduce avoidable harm in hospitals in England will seek to incentivise safety by offering reduced indemnity premiums paid to the NHS Litigation Authority.

The ‘Sign up to Safety’ scheme was announced by Jeremy Hunt in a speech at Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle. The aim is to reduce avoidable harm - through complications such as medication errors, blood clots and bed sores - in the NHS over the next three years, thus "cutting costs and saving up to 6,000 lives".

NHS organisations will be invited to join the scheme and set out "ambitious plans" to be reviewed by the NHS Litigation Authority, which indemnifies trusts against law suits. The NHSLA will then reduce the premiums paid by all hospitals successfully implementing the plans.

The government also intends to introduce a Duty of Candour. In a consultation published this week it is proposed that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will include the Duty of Candour as part of its registration requirements. This will mean every organisation registered with the CQC will have to be open about all cases of significant harm. Providers will be required to notify patients of incidents where significant harm has occurred and provide an apology.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "We now have a once in a generation opportunity to save lives and prevent avoidable harm – which will empower staff and save money that can be re-invested in patient care. Hospitals are now being approached to pledge their support to the movement and all trusts will receive an invitation to join over the next few months."

Virginia Mason hospital in Seattle was the site of an avoidable patient incident ten years ago when a woman was accidently injected with cleaning fluid. The hospital instituted reforms and is now ranked among the safest hospitals in the world.

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