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a department of health building imageSeptember 26 2017

Community pharmacy should be included within the remit of a new body being set up to investigate health service safety, a pharmacy organisation has said.

 The Pharmacists’ Defence Association says any organisation or business, public or private, providing services to the NHS should be included. It is concerned that pharmacy businesses may sometimes put profitability ahead of patient care.

The comments are in response to the Government publishing a draft bill, the Health Service Safety Investigations Bill, which intends to establish a new independent healthcare safety investigation body to improve patient safety.

The Health Service Safety Investigations Body (HSSIB) would have a statutory role, be independent of the NHS and would operate “at arm’s length from Government, with new powers that will enable it to discharge its investigation functions fully and effectively.”

Announcing the Bill, the Government said there are around 24,000 serious incidents of healthcare harm known to occur in the NHS each year; research suggests that around 150 deaths each week could have been avoidable were it not for problems in care.

“This draft Bill is an opportunity to bring about a whole-system change to how the NHS investigates and learns from healthcare error. It will promote transparency and openness, reassuring patients, families and NHS staff that every effort will be made to prevent the same mistakes happening again,” said the Government.

The PDA said that “the HSSIB will have the function of investigating qualifying incidents occurring during the provision of NHS services or occurring at premises at which those services are provided, which should include community pharmacies.”

In addition, the PDA points out that the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said “When significant errors occur, it is vital that health organisations react quickly and decisively to share lessons and make improvements. To achieve this we need to create an environment where patients, public and healthcare professionals all feel able to speak out about their concerns, without fear or favour.”

The PDA says it believes “it is essential that private organisations that provide NHS services for profit, such as those who provide community pharmacy services, are subject to same level of scrutiny on patient safety as other NHS service providers.”

PDA chief executive Mark Koziol added: “Our members want to provide pharmaceutical services in an environment where patient safety is top priority, but in community pharmacy they can sometimes find their professional responsibilities towards patients at odds with the employers’ drive for profits.

“We want to see the same dramatic improvements in safety that other sectors have achieved through effective investigations bodies. PDA call upon parliamentarians across the political spectrum to ensure this bill includes community pharmacy within the scope of HSSIB.”

Links:
PDA announcement        
Department of Health ‘Health Service Safety Investigations Bill’   

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