Parliament told ‘Safe Space’ would destroy confidence in the NHS

Published: 26 Jun 2018

Controversial proposals to impose a prohibition on sharing information gleaned from NHS patient safety investigations would destroy trust in NHS investigations and the NHS’ traditional relationship with patients.

AvMA Chief Executive Peter Walsh gave evidence in front of a Joint Select Committee of Parliament on 18 June looking at the draft Health Service Safety Investigations Bill. He told the Committee of MPs and peers that the so-called ‘safe space’ prohibition on sharing information, even from the patients/families affected, is an infringement of patients’ rights and will lead to poorer investigations because patients could not be fully involved, and make it impossible for patients and families to have trust in NHS investigations. An unintended consequence of this will be to create a more adversarial atmosphere and encourage people to take legal and disciplinary action.

Mr Walsh said:

“The so-called ‘safe space’ is nothing of the sort. We would fully support measures to protect staff from being bullied and hung out to dry by bad employers. That is what staff are really worried about. All the Bill would do is prohibit any information from investigations being shared with injured patients or their families, or even findings of fact in the final report being used to seek justice following negligent treatment.

“It seems this is more about saving the Department of Health money by denying access to justice than anything else. It is totally inconsistent with the Duty of Candour or the NHS Constitution, Whatever happened to the principle of ‘nothing about me without me’.”