Patient safety

Professional Standards Authority issue recommendations on patient safety

The Professional Standards Authority have launched a new report detailing what they believe the biggest challenges affecting the quality, efficacy, and safety of healthcare are in the UK today.

The report’s primary recommendation is that an independent Health and Social Care Safety Commissioner should be appointed for each country in the UK – these commissioners would identify any current, emerging and potentially future risks across the health sector and then set out the steps necessary to take the requisite action to address them.

Overall, Safer care for all – solutions from professional regulation and beyond covers four main themes:

  • Tackling inequalities
  • Regulating for new risks
  • Facing up to the workforce crisis
  • Accountability, fear and public safety

The report laments a “fragmented and complex” patient and user safety framework, ultimately issuing calls for action to solve the safety issues, as well as questioning whether patients are actually even safer now, compared to the turn of the millennium.

It encourages regulators, governments and other bodies to do what is necessary, whilst also pledging to take action themselves. As part of that help, the Professional Standards Authority will host a conference in November, allowing key stakeholders the opportunity to discuss the issues at hand and continue the discourse and efforts to find solutions.

Caroline Corby, Chair of the Professional Standards Authority, said: “In its twentieth year, the Authority is publishing a call to action for us all to work to address some of the major outstanding safety concerns for health and social care.

“The upcoming reforms to the powers and governance of the healthcare professional regulators will help but won’t fully solve these complex problems. Professional regulation is just one part of the picture. We want to work with governments and all bodies across health and social care to tackle the big issues we describe in the report.”

The Authority’s calls to actions include:

  • The aforementioned appointment of a Health and Social Care Safety Commissioner for each UK country spanning public and private provision and independent of governments.
  • Improve the way it collects data from those with protected characteristics in order to identify the differences in how care is distributed and delivered, to solve the health inequalities still present when certain people access healthcare services.
  • The rise of ‘high street’ provision and the use of technology combined with disrupting factors like commercial and financial motives that can cloud professional judgement is putting patients at risk – the government and health regulators need to stay ahead of the curve and evaluate how healthcare is changing to protect the public from emerging problems.
  • UK Governments should work together to address the workforce crisis.
  • Ensure that the safe spaces approach in England, where the law potentially prevents the disclosure of important information provided by staff to safety investigations, does not undermine any existing public protection protocols or inhibit transparency when things go wrong.

More information about the report is available here.

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