Patient Safety Alert
A recent Freedom of Information request and subsequent report by the charity Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA) has brought to light significant NHS failure to implement patient safety alerts, and provides evidence that hospitals in England are not taking patient safety seriously. The AvMA February 2010 report, entitled “Adding Insult to Injury”, states that within Shropshire, between 2004 and 2009, the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust did not comply with 13 alerts.
Neil Lorimer of Lanyon Bowdler, who has recently been reaccredited to the Law Society’s Panel of approved Clinical Negligence Solicitors said “I have been practising in this area of work for over 20 years and it is always frustrating to see the same errors being repeated in the cases I come across. When a case concludes NHS Trusts often advise the injured person or the family of a deceased that lessons will be learned. It makes a bad situation worse to see that so many safety alerts are being ignored.”
The charity made the Freedom of Information request to the Department of Health, who handle the Central Alert System which records national data on safety alerts issued by the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA).
Patient safety alerts have been in place since 2004, and are only issued following comprehensive research and clarification that the issues are serious, and that in the interests of safety, urgent recommended actions are issued. NHS hospitals are required to report to the Central Alert System via the Department of Health once the recommended actions have been implemented.
Through its research, AvMA has discovered that 80 trusts in England may have failed to comply with a least 10 safety alerts, a further 300 trusts have yet to comply with at least one patient safety alert, and 200 trusts have not complied with an alert dating back five years.
The research carried out by AvMA has revealed that there is no monitoring system in place to ensure NHS trusts are being compliant and are subsequently endangering patient safety. An NHS trust failing to implement alerts, and to take recommended courses of action is putting lives at risk. The AvMA Chief Executive, Peter Walsh has stated that such complacency over patient safety “could allow another Stafford to happen”.