Health Service Safety Investigations Bill

Published: 14 Sep 2017

The draft Health Service Safety Investigations Bill published today would prohibit all information discovered by the Health Service Safety Investigation Body or by accredited trusts from being disclosed  – even to patients or their families when the information is directly relevant to what happened in their treatment. AvMA believes this would be serious infringement of patients’ rights and undermine the progress that has been made with the duty of candour and other initiatives to improve trust in NHS investigations and create an open and fair culture.

Peter Walsh, AvMA’s chief executive, who also took part in the Expert Advisory Group set up by the Department of Health to advise on the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch said:

“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. 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 HSSIB. 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 HSSIB, of which we are supportive, these affronts to patients’ rights would destroy public confidence in HSSIB and NHS investigations and undermine recent advances made in openness, transparency and a just culture.”