Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch to restrict information against experts’ advice

Published: 12 May 2016

The expert advisory group report on the establishment of the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) published today contains an unequivocal recommendation that any information relevant to a patient’s care should be shared with them, and they should be free to use it as they wish.

This is a sensible recommendation about which consensus was reached by a broad church of patient safety experts on the advisory group set up by the Department of Health.

However, statutory directions on how the HSIB must work were published by the Department of Health last month. These fly in the face of the expert group’s recommendation and restrict the circumstances in which patients might be told about what is found out about their own care, and on how they could use it.

AvMA Chief Executive Peter Walsh said:

“We desperately want HSIB to succeed, which is why we are so disappointed that the Department of Health has flatly rejected the expert group’s recommendation about sharing information with patients and families.

“We think it will damage public confidence in the HSIB if patients know there is a possibility that information about their own care may not be shared with them and even if it is, there will be restrictions on what they could do with it.

“We are calling on Jeremy Hunt to change the directions so that they are consistent with the duty of candour, which he himself has championed.”