NHS Blackburn with Darwen CCG

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Focus is on patient safety

Focus is on patient safety

I went to the Patient Safety Congress in Birmingham at the start of this month, and was impressed by the range of initiatives showcased which are designed to make sure that improving safety is at the core of all organisations providing care. As a commissioning organisation, the CCG has to make sure that the providers of health care it commissions are safe.  This includes hospitals, community service providers, primary care practices, voluntary community and faith organisations and independent providers.

We need to have information from our providers about what they do and the systems they have in place to support the delivery of safe care. We want these organisations to create an environment or develop a culture in which all staff whether directly employed or not, are encouraged to report patient safety incidents. We also want information about a patient safety incident to be shared with patients and their families in a truthful and open manner.  Saying sorry when things go wrong is vital for the patient, their family and carers as well as to support learning and reduce the chances of something similar happening in the future.

Since the report by Sir Robert Francis into events at Stafford Hospital was published there has been a renewed emphasis on the promotion of safe care. The findings of other enquiries give further impetus to these initiatives. James Titcombe whose newborn son died in Furness General Hospital in 2008 is now a national adviser on patient safety culture and quality at the Care Quality Commission.  He uses the aviation and nuclear energy industries as examples of ones with a culture which ensures employees are actively rewarded for raising concerns and making observations about safety.

We have our own committee which looks at the quality of the services we commission and being established as it was around the time that the local hospital was put into special measures, the members from the start had a clear focus on the safety of services. This included considering matters such as the rates of hospital acquired infection but also compliance with best practice to ensure good outcomes for patients.  This committee will now have the primary care services we co commission to monitor along with hospital mental health and community services so it has a very important remit.

We have in the past had a lay member to represent the interest of patients on the committee, however the person who did this has now stepped down so there is an opportunity for someone else to contribute to the work of the committee. I have asked at a meeting of representatives from the Patient Participation Groups linked to our practices if anyone wanted to volunteer but so far no one has.  If any readers of this are interested and want to talk about what would be involved please get in touch.