‘Safe space’ in healthcare safety investigations

surgery

‘Safe space’ is a controversial proposal by the Department of Health and Social Care to allow NHS safety investigations to withhold information from patients and families – even when it directly relates to what happened in their treatment. The supposed aim is to encourage healthcare professionals to speak more openly during investigations without fear of blame or serious consequences.

AvMA campaigned against the proposals, calling them “misguided and very dangerous” and in direct contradiction to the duty of candour. And in a victory for common sense, patient safety and openness, the government has now dropped plans to allow the ‘safe space’ in local investigations, although it will remain for investigations carried out by the Healthcare Safety Investigations Branch (HSIB).

The draft Health Service Safety Investigations Bill, which will confirm the HSIB as an independent statutory body, contains a number of elements which still cause concern and AvMA continues to exert pressure on the government on behalf of patients and patient safety.