Broken trust: making patient safety more than just a promise.

Published: 29 Jun 2023

Categories: Latest

The Health Ombudsman today issued a report finding that the NHS lacks accountability and compassion towards patients when things go wrong.

AvMA welcomes and endorses the recommendations made today by England’s Health Ombudsman in their report, ‘Broken trust: making patient safety more than just a promise’.

Our own research and evidence from the many thousands of harmed patients and families we speak to every year lead us to agree with the Health Ombudsman when he says, “The NHS is suffering from a deficit of accountability and compassion for patients and their families when things go wrong”. The defensive attitude and failure to offer a timely and meaningful apology often lead to litigation and additional cost. So much of this could be avoided through timely and better interactions with patients, combined with meaningful support for them.

The Health Ombudsman makes a number of recommendations, all of which we support. Recommendation 4 stands out as it is something other patient groups (including the Harmed Patients Alliance) and we have campaigned for. The Department of Health and Social Care should commit to funding further independent advocacy to support harmed patients, families and carers when they raise concerns or look for answers after an incident. This is critical because too many risk facing compounded harm if the health care system lets them down and “closes ranks”, as sadly happens in the worst cases we see. This recommendation is, therefore, imperative if the Government is to take this issue seriously and will provide the necessary support to ensure that the NHS’ new patient safety incident response framework (PSIRF) lives up to what it promises.

AvMA continues to campaign for improvements for learning to be embedded into the culture and fabric of the healthcare system. Through our work in supporting clients with inquests following the death of a loved one, we too often see that recommendations made by Coroners through the Prevention of Future Deaths report simply get ignored. That is why we support the charity Inquest’s campaign for creating a National Oversight Mechanism to help track and monitor such recommendations and build more accountability into our systems where there is currently a deficit.