RCoA submission to the Joint Committee on the Draft Health Service Safety Investigations Bill

The RCoA has submitted evidence to the Joint Committee on the Draft Health Service Safety Investigations Bill. The Bill will set in statute ‘the establishment of the Health Service Safety Investigations Body (“HSSIB”) as an independent statutory body, with powers to conduct investigations into incidents or accidents within the NHS which appear to evidence risks affecting patient safety’. In addition, the Bill sets out proposed provisions for the accreditation of NHS trusts and foundation trusts in order to carry out investigations relating to patient safety. The Bill also proposes the extension of a ‘safe space’ for such investigations.

We welcome the establishment of an organisation which, with its independence in statute, marks a considerable step forward in enabling honest and open conversations to take place when things go wrong.

We have, however, raised a number of concerns over some of the provisions in the draft Bill, specifically:

  • The lack of statutory provision in the Bill to include clinicians and medical experts on investigation panels
  • A lack of clarity over the definition of ‘serious patient safety issue’ and implications on patient safety
  • Potential conflicts of interest with arrangements which would allow stage 2 accredited trusts to investigate themselves
  • The potential human rights breaches arising from some provisions in the Bill
  • The potential for the provisions of the Bill around ‘safe space’ to contravene the ethos of the duty of candour, where an investigation could create a barrier between professional and patient. 

We have also made recommendations for the Joint Committee to consider, which reflect the implications of recent high profile cases that are subject to separate reviews, commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care, and the General Medical Council, respectively. 

Read the submission in full.

11 June 2018