26 February 2010
Leigh Day & Co welcomes the publication of AvMA’s report Adding Insult to Injury – NHS Failure to Implement Patient Safety Alerts.
The report, based on information released by the Department of Health on AvMA’s Freedom of Information Act request, shows that NHS hospital trusts in England are not complying with safety alerts issued by the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA). It is worrying however, that AvMA had to use the Freedom of Information Act to bring this data to the public attention, as it is not publicly available.
NPSA is the NHS body responsible for promoting patient safety in England. Patient safety alerts are issued to trusts in response to identified priority patient safety concerns. The Alerts which are sent to NHS trusts for whom they are relevant contain “required actions” with a deadline for when they should be completed. All NHS bodies are required to implement patient safety alerts issued by the NPSA. Indeed this is one of the “core standards” set by the Department of Health. This report shows that this is not met. Patients’ lives are thus put at risk.
53 alerts were issued in the period between January 2002 and December 2009. The data shows that some three quarters of NHS trusts did not comply with at least one patient safety alert for which the deadline had already passed. Eighty trusts had not complied with ten such alerts, and a small number of trusts did not comply with quite a high number of alerts. For instance, one trust did not comply with 37 alerts, and two London Trusts did not comply with 31 alerts respectively.
The report further highlighted a worrying fact that there is no system in place for monitoring compliance, intervention and follow-up with the NHS Trusts. The NPSA cannot regulate Trusts’ compliance with the alerts. It is the responsibility of the DoH and the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Yet, as the trusts self-certify their compliance, and the extent of the CQC’s inspections has so far been limited in number and scope, the report suggests that the level of non-compliance may be higher.
From April 2010, it will become mandatory for all trusts to report serious safety patient incidents to the Care Quality Commission. It is expected that this should improve the monitoring of incidents and the process of ensuring compliance with the alerts.
Sanja Strkljevic, clinical negligence solicitor at Leigh Day said:
"It is hoped that from April 2010, in accordance with their duties, NHS Trusts will efficiently report serious safety patient incidents to the Care Quality Commission. This will hopefully lead to a vigorous system of monitoring and intervention in the event of non-compliance, and thus safeguard patients' safety."
Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.