‘No blame’ inquiries re-inforced

The Medical Defence Union has welcomed a House of Lords vote to strengthen the ‘safe-space’ provisions under which healthcare professionals can take part in investigations that take place following a patient safety incident.

Chief executive Dr Matthew Lee said: ‘The need to move away from a culture of blame to one of openness and learning has been widely recognised for some time. 

‘With this in mind, the Health and Care Bill includes important provisions so that healthcare professionals can engage with the Health Services Safety Invest­igations Body (HSSIB) in a so-called safe space.’

The House of Lords voted in favour of an amendment to remove coroners from the list of exemptions to the prohibition on the HSSIB disclosing information from the safe-space. 

Dr Lee said his union had made a strong case for this since the bill was published. The change would prevent coroners from being able to routinely request material provided to HSSIB investigations naming individual healthcare pro­fessionals. 

He added: ‘This vote is a victory for all those who want to see the new HSSIB and its investigations yield results, with improvements identified in the interests of patient safety. 

‘For that to happen, it is essential to enable healthcare professionals to engage with its investigations without fear of blame. That’s why we are urging the Government to agree to the amendment staying in the bill.’