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Expert Medical Lawyers Welcome Don Berwick Patient Safety Report

Report Makes Recommendations On How To Improve NHS


By Dave Grimshaw

Leading medical negligence lawyers have welcomed a new report which states that patient safety should be the top priority of the NHS.

Prof Don Berwick, a former health advisor to President Barack Obama  in the USA says that there should be a focus on changing the culture of the NHS and improving the systems in place rather than blaming the staff. He was asked by ministers to conduct the review after the public inquiry into Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust.

Prof Berwick has now recommended criminal sanctions in extreme cases for staff who wilfully neglect patients and adopt a "couldn't care less attitude" which causes injuries to patients. However he stopped short of calling for a duty of candour, which would demand the NHS informs patients of errors made in their care – because he said the current codes of conduct should already include this.

David Body, a specialist medical lawyer at Irwin Mitchell welcomed the report’s finding and recommendations. He said: “This is yet another review which is setting out ways to improve the NHS. The patients should always be at the heart of everything the organisation does.

“At Irwin Mitchell we have repeatedly called for patient safety to be the number one priority of the NHS after seeing many horrific cases of medical negligence that where wholly avoidable had the appropriate guidelines been followed or basic errors not occurred.

“The NHS carries out such important work and the review is right to shift the focus from the staff to the culture and environment in which they work.

“It’s now crucial that the many recommendations from the Francis report into Mid-Staffs, the Keogh Review and now the report by Don Berwick, are implemented to ensure that patient safety is secured and that the failures of the past really do become catalysts for a better future for the NHS.”

The report stretches 45-pages with many recommendations focusing on the creation of a new culture of openness and transparency.

Body added: “One of the key themes in the report is the call for more co-operation between the various regulators and management bodies involved in healthcare and this transparency is vital to ensuring that information is shared on what has gone wrong so that it can be prevented from happening again.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in medical negligence claims.