Joint Parliamentary Committee tells Government to drop most controversial part of its ‘Safe Space’ proposals

Published: 2 Aug 2018

AvMA welcomes the report of the Joint Committee on the Draft Health Service Safety Investigations Bill, published on 2 August 2018).

The committee rejects 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/prohibition on disclosure of information. This was the most controversial element of the Bill and something which AvMA and others had argued strongly against.

The Committee 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’.

AvMA Chief Executive Peter Walsh said:

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

Mr Walsh added:

“As drafted, the Bill would mean that any investigation carried out by HSIB would be covered by ‘safe space’. We are grateful that they agree that this simply isn’t appropriate for the maternity investigations. There are other elements of the Bill where the Committee has not fully understood our concerns, but we hope to take these up with the Department of Health and Social Care.”