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NHS still failing on patient safety

11th December 2008

The head of the Healthcare Commission has warned that the NHS in England and Wales is still failing to ensure patient care is as safe as it could be.

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Writing in the watchdog’s annual report, Sir Ian Kennedy said there remained a black hole of information on the quality and safety of general practice care with incidents far more common than actual data showed.

The report is the last assessment of the NHS by the Healthcare Commission before it is replaced by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) next March.

The document also highlighted 22 trusts which continued to perform poorly, either because of management or leadership problems or because of their rural settings.

Sir Ian said: "There are a small number of trusts trapped at a level of performance that is unacceptably poor."

With safety pinpointed as a priority, he added: "There's a great deal to do before we can be confident that the care that patients receive is as safe as it reasonably could be.

"We are a long way from an NHS which systematically and hungrily examines its performance, reinforces safe practice, gets in and learns from things that go wrong and does things differently and more safely as a consequence."

The British Medical Association said the commission's criticisms of general practice care were out of proportion.

Chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said: "Unfortunately, the report contains the misleading suggestion that up to 600 errors occur in primary care a day."

The National Patient Safety Agency stressed the majority of incidents reported were not serious.

 

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