Government accepts majority of Paterson report’s recommendations

CONSULTANTS will be expected to write directly to patients – rather than to their GPs – about their care, using language that is easy to understand.

That’s among the recommendations accepted by the government from the report into the behaviour of disgraced surgeon Ian Paterson.

Consultants in both the NHS and independent sector should write to patients, outlining their condition and treatment, using “simple language”. This letter should be addressed directly to the patient and copied to their GP – rather than being written to the GP and copied to the patient.

The government has pledged to work with providers to make it easier to write to patients and to work out how this can be monitored.

The move is part of an increased focused on providing patient-centred information – a key focus of the government’s response.

Of the 17 recommendation made by the Paterson inquiry, the government accepted nine, accepted five in principle and rejected one. Two others will be kept under review.

The government accepted in principle a recommendation to establish a single information point where details can be accessed on all consultants practising in England. This would set out their practising privileges and other critical performance data, for example how many times a consultant has performed a particular procedure.

This move was welcomed by the Royal College of Surgeons of England. President Professor Neil Mortensen said the college had long called for the same safety standards to be applied across both the NHS and private healthcare sector.

He said having a "single repository" of information about consultants’ practice "would allow the NHS and private sector to share information and raise any concerns about patient safety much more quickly".

Professor Mortensen also supported the government’s decision to accept another recommendation giving the Care Quality Commission the power to monitor whether independent hospitals are complying with guidance on multi-disciplinary team meetings.

He said: "This will help to facilitate better team working and information sharing. Ultimately, it should help to protect patients from potential rogue surgeons, or other health professionals."

He called on healthcare professionals to embrace the recommendations, adding: "Everyone working in healthcare owes it to the patients who were so badly let down, to make these changes". 

MDDUS chief executive Chris Kenny welcomed the government's response. He said: "This is a detailed and complex report into a shocking case of patient harm, and we welcome the commitment now by the government to take action on its recommendations.

"With many of these recommendations either overlapping or being interlinked, it will be more than usually important for government to make sure implementation is consistent and integrated.

"This will be important to ensure reforms are embedded successfully, and to avoid further burden on professionals and employers when the pandemic is placing so many under unique personal and organisational pressure."

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