Significant concerns have been raised by patients’ Charity Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA) that a draft bill published by the Government will prevent patients and families from finding out the truth about their treatment.
The Health Service Safety Investigations Bill creates an independent statutory body (HSIB) with legal powers to carry out investigations into patient safety incidents.
There are concerns however that the bill prohibits the body from disclosing information to patients or their families even when the information is directly relevant to what happened in their treatment. The bill also extends this prohibition to NHS Trusts conducting investigations into other trusts, or even investigating themselves.
AvMA’s chief executive Peter Walsh stated
“We have serious concerns about the parts of this bill which prohibit the disclosure even of information directly relevant to patients’ treatment to the patient/family concerned.” he said. “This is completely at odds with the recommendations of the Expert Advisory Group and the spirit of the duty of candour and NHS Constitution.
“This is so even if it were only to apply to the new HSIB. However, the Bill allows for extending this so called ‘safe space’ to local investigations – including trusts investigating themselves. We believe this would be against the letter as well as the spirit of the duty of candour and must not be allowed.
“Whilst we welcome the provisions for powers and independence for the HSIB, of which we are supportive, these affronts to patients’ rights would destroy public confidence in HSIB and NHS investigations and undermine recent advances made in openness, transparency and a just culture.”
It remains to be seen how far the Bill progresses though Parliament.
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