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Patient safety reports round-up during the COVID-19 pandemic

28 May 2020
6 min read
Volume 29 · Issue 10


John Tingle, Lecturer in Law, Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham, discusses some recent patient safety reports, revealing that patient safety concerns continue during the current pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic will not always be with us and the time will come when the NHS settles back into normal activities. The pandemic may have created a new ‘normal’ and new ways of treating patients, such as by remote consultations. Clinical practice may change when the dust settles after the crisis, but a key issue will be whether there will be less avoidable patient harm, fewer ‘never events’ occurring, and fewer headline-grabbing patient safety crises.

Before COVID-19, the general media was often rocked by headlines proclaiming major patient crises. I can see no reason why those headlines will not continue when the crisis has abated. It is a sad statement to make but history has shown that major patient safety errors, causing significant avoidable patient harm, regularly appear to blot the NHS landscape. This is despite the very best efforts of government and many in the NHS to develop an ingrained patient safety culture.

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