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Reviewing and responding to patient safety incidents in the NHS

25 April 2019
Volume 28 · Issue 8


John Tingle discusses several recent reports on patient safety incidents in the NHS and the urgent need for action to deal with the problems identified

Patient safety incidents have been reported in the media over many years. The banner headlines describe the shocking events and a similar story unfolds soon afterwards. The frequency with which this happens has caused me to reflect on the risk that we could become desensitised and all too accustomed to such incidents occurring.

For the NHS, this could result in patient safety slipping in terms of policy development priority, with incidents ceasing to have the powerful effect they have today. NHS staff could start to switch off as they struggle to cope with increasing workloads. For the public, fatigue with the news could set in. Yet another NHS patient safety incident is reported: initial shock, shortly followed by another incident, with nothing seemingly changing to stop it happening. They could also lose confidence in the NHS. There is an urgent need to develop an ingrained patient safety culture in the NHS and reduce the level of incidents occurring.

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