New safety standards to avoid “never events”

NEW national safety standards have been published in a bid to avoid so-called "never events" in NHS surgical care.

The National Safety Standards for Invasive Procedures (NatSSIPs) aim to reduce the number of patient safety incidents.

Published by NHS England, they set out broad principles of safe practice and advise healthcare professionals on implementing best practice, such as through standardised safety checks, and education and training. They will be used to create local standards by NHS care providers.

NHS England said the standards do not replace the World Health Organisation (WHO) Surgical Safety Checklist or the Five Steps to Safer Surgery guidance but instead will "strengthen and enhance them in all hospitals".

The NatSSIPs follow NHS England’s 2014 Surgical Never Events Taskforce report which made a number of recommendations on reducing never events in the operating theatre environment. Key to those recommendations was the development of a set of new high-level national standards that encompass the patient journey from admission, through to the procedure, and on to discharge from the operating area.

They have been endorsed by a number of key organisations including royal colleges, the Care Quality Commission, the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the General Medical Council, Monitor, the Trust Development Agency, and Health Education England.

Dr Mike Durkin, NHS England Director of Patient Safety,said: "There are still unacceptable levels of harm caused by never events and serious incidents and so it remains vital that all health professionals remain vigilant in working to these standards so that we can continue to reduce the harm they cause to patients."

The NatSSIPs Group chair Will Harrop-Griffiths moved to reassure healthcare professionals fearing an increased paperwork burden, stating: "Most of the steps these NatSSIPs require or suggest are already built into local standard operating procedures that exist in NHS hospitals throughout the UK.

"The NatSSIPs have been created to bring together national and local learning from the analysis of never events, serious incidents and near misses in a set of recommendations that will help NHS organisations to provide safer care to their patients."

Read the new standards on the NHS England website