“Wholly misconceived” safe space proposals rejected by Joint Select Committee

A report published in August has rejected in the strongest terms the Government’s proposal to allow NHS trusts to investigate themselves and each other under the so-called ‘safe space’ arrangements. We wrote about our concerns in the June newsletter and are very pleased that the committee has taken heed.

The Joint Select Committee on the Draft Health Service Safety Investigations Bill described the idea as “wholly misconceived” and said only investigations conducted by the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) should be carried out under ‘safe space’.

This was the most controversial element of the Bill and something which AvMA and others had argued strongly against. AvMA gave written and oral evidence to the Joint Committee and AvMA Chief Executive Peter Walsh broadly welcomed the report.

“Having heard evidence from AvMA and other stakeholders, the Joint Committee could not be more clear that NHS trusts investigating themselves under the shroud of ‘safe space’ would be a clear conflict of interest and is unacceptable,” he said. “We now need to hear from the Department of Health and Social Care that it will drop this dreadful idea, which would make a mockery of the duty of candour and have grave consequences for public confidence in NHS investigations.”

The Joint Committee also agreed with AvMA that maternity investigations currently conducted by HSIB should not be conducted using ‘safe space’. It recommends that they are conducted by NHS Improvement.

“There are other elements of the Bill where the Committee has not fully understood our concerns,” warned Mr Walsh. “We hope to take these up with the Department of Health and Social Care.”