Is the NHS learning?

20 January 2014

There have been two interesting pamphlets recently published by the National Health Service Litigation Authority “saying sorry” in December 2013 and “learning from maternity claims” in January 2014.  Both end with the mission statement “Achieving timely and fair resolution, enhancing learning and improving safety”.

The NHSLA’s published values are professional, expert, ethical, respectful.  The statement they make that “we treat people with consideration and respect and encourage supportive collaborative and inclusive teamworking” is good to see.

If these documents and these values start a shift towards the patient being seen as an important part of “the team” there may be a genuine cause for celebration as the tide turns in an organisation that, to date, has been accused of failing to achieve consistency in showing respect for the public it serves.

I want to achieve genuine accountability for my clients who have suffered as a result of a preventable clinical mistake but also to be able to say to them with conviction the “NHS will learn from your experience”.   We are, undoubtedly, seeing some positive movement and the NHSLA’s documents are timely but there is still a way to go and restrictions upon the duty of candour announced by Jeremy Hunt may have already stalled the process (see also our recent blog - Why restrict a duty of candour?).

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