Intended for healthcare professionals


Birmingham trust is taking a defensive approach to patient safety matters, claims ombudsman

BMJ 2023; 380 doi: (Published 17 March 2023) Cite this as: BMJ 2023;380:p646
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. The BMJ

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has accused one of the UK’s largest hospital trusts of taking a defensive approach to patient safety matters and refusing “to accept accountability or learn from past failings.”1

The ombudsman, whose office takes final decisions on complaints that have not been resolved by the NHS, has also cast doubt on the independence and transparency of reviews into the leadership and culture at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB).

After a BBC Newsnight and BBC West Midlands investigation last December, which claimed that patients were being put at risk and doctors “punished” for raising safety concerns at the trust,2 NHS Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care Board announced three reviews to tackle the allegations. A rapid review would look at the BBC’s claims, a further review would consider the trust’s leadership, and the third would investigate its culture.

Whistleblowing former clinicians at the trust, along with local MP Preet Gill and Birmingham Healthwatch, are pressing for a fully independent inquiry.3 The ombudsman, Rob Behrens, said that his office had understood it could take part in the review of leadership at the trust, but had later been …

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