Patient safety is the number one priority for independent healthcare providers, and IHPN are delighted to mark the first ever World Patient Safety Day – a new initiative to raise global awareness about patient safety and encourage global solidarity and action.
In the past few years, improving patient safety has undoubtedly risen up the health agenda, with everyone from the World Health Organisation (who are the architects of today’s celebration) to former Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt who declared it his mission to make the NHS ’the safest healthcare system in the world’, and most recently the NHS’ Patient Safety Strategy, calling on health services to do more to raise safety standards and to take a “whole systems” approach to patient safety.
And for the independent health sector, who treat millions of patients every year, safety has been a key focus with significant work taking place to drive continuous improvement amongst our members.
Currently over 78% of independent sector hospitals are rated good or outstanding by the Care Quality Commission, which compares favourably with the wider healthcare system, and the sector has much to be proud of in the safe and patient-centred care it provides. Indeed, the sector also rates highly across a number of other metrics, including PROMS (Patient Recorded Outcomes Measures) where eight of the top ten hospitals are independent, and we were praised by the Care Minister Caroline Dineage earlier this year for the sector’s engagement with the Freedom to Speak Up (FTSU) agenda, with almost 100 100 FTSU Guardians in place in the sector already.
However, the sector has strong aspirations for patient safety, and we are driving forward a programme of work to further ensure that all patients being treated in independent healthcare providers are accessing the safest possible care. As part of this, IHPN were pleased to host our first annual joint regulation conference with the CQC in the Summer, which provided practice advice on what providers need to do to improve on the CQC’s “Effective” domain, following on from a workshop we held the previous Winter on the “Safe” and “Well-led” key lines of their inquiry.
A key element of our own work on patient safety is the recognition that a cross-sector “whole systems” approach to safety and other issues around medical governance is vital. In developing a Medical Practitioners Assurance Framework (led by former NHS National Medical Director Sir Bruce Keogh and which will be published in October), we therefore brought together stakeholders from across the health and care system, including the GMC, NHS Improvement, the CQC, Royal Medical Colleges, and the Patients Association, to help develop some principles around clinical governance in the independent sector so that clinicians and providers all across the healthcare system can better work together to perform to the highest possible standards.
As the phrase (almost) goes, patient safety is for life, not just for World Patient Safety Day. And with a strong culture of learning and continuous improvement, independent healthcare providers are committed to building on the outstanding care we know is already delivered and spreading this to ensure ever more patients can benefit.
Disa Young is IHPN’s Director of Regulatory Affairs