Who will carry torch for patient safety after the reforms, conference is asked

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 20 May 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d3167
  1. Matthew Limb
  1. 1Birmingham

A conference heard warnings about the possible impact of the government’s proposed commissioning reforms on patient safety.

Stephen Thornton, chief executive of the Health Foundation, told the Patient Safety Congress: “My fear is things could get worse before they get better.”

He said fundamental responsibility for patient safety should lie “at the sharp end” with local clinicians and boards.

But he said national leadership and the ability to share learning widely was also important and this could be lost in England with the abolition of the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA).

Mr Thornton said it was unclear under the reforms precisely what role and responsibilities new commissioning groups and revamped regulatory bodies would have in patient safety.

“NHS head office still needs someone who is a flag carrier for patient safety,” he said.

The congress, staged jointly by the Health Service Journal and the Nursing Times with support from the Health Foundation, was held over two days in Birmingham on 17-18 …

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