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The National Health Service (NHS) has a duty to patient safety

Patient safety is a top priority for the National Health Service (NHS) but are they meeting that obligation

The Dr Foster research identified the essential components in ensuring that patient safety was a priority for the individual trust concerned.

They were strong leadership that was recognised by all in the trust, systems for reporting strong clinical engagement and a commitment to implementing safer practices and openness with patients and their carers.

The group said that in those 12 trusts that were underperforming on safety, there was a wide variation in safety standards with clinical errors and poor management frequently putting patients at risk.

The Policy Exchange, a think-tank has also looked into patient safety within the NHS and it suggests that as many as 40,000 lives could be saved each year if the NHS improved its safety record.

However it fears that big changes are unlikely due to a ‘widespread culture of fear’ said to be running through the health service and, once again, the suggestion that managers are more concerned with hitting targets than ensuring patient safety.

The Policy Exchange adds that despite NHS funding having grown from £40bn to £120bn in 11 years, standards have not improved in that time.

Other organisations, the National Patient Safety Agency for one, accuse hospitals of showing a disregard for patient safety despite strict rules and regulations within the NHS.

The group Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA) claims that 50 NHS trusts have not followed the advice of the NPSA in attempting to clean up their hospitals.

The NHS constitution sets out the patients rights and introduced a standard complaints procedure from 2009 onwards.

At the time of the CQC investigation last year, trusts were told of the need to improve on the decontamination of surgical equipment and of the requirement to develop tighter policies to tackle infections such as MRSA, clostridium difficile and legionella.

The CQC aimed to see a general standard of hygiene within all the NHS trusts and gave a warning that any failure to meet the required standard could lead to them receiving warning notices and fines or even, in extreme case, prosecution or closure.


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