A report released today by the charity Action against Medical Accidents (AVMA) reveals worrying statistics about the reaction of NHS Trusts to patient safety alerts.
The conclusion of the report is that NHS Trusts are risking the safety of the public by failing to implement new safety systems. Patient Safety Alerts are issued to all NHS Trusts when a major issue has been spotted in standard NHS procedures. They commonly are issued after avoidable deaths occur during medical care, and are coupled with a deadline for changes to be made by the individual trust.
An example alert is the one issued on ‘Safer Use of Injectable Medicines’ alert which was issued with a deadline of 31st March 2008 for implementation. It was issued after several high profile cases in 2007 of deaths from mistaken massive overdoses. The AVMA report found that this alert has still not been implemented by 67 NHS Trusts over two years after the deadline.
In total, the charity found that 1,242 individual alerts had not been implemented, with 63% of Trusts failing to implement at least one alert on time. Staggeringly, 29% of Trusts had ten or more alerts not complied with.
This failure to improve safety has led to worries that it could lead to many compensation claims if injuries occur from unsafe and negligent treatment caused by not implementing new safety procedures.
The charity argues that the system for monitoring and ensuring compliance with the Patient Safety Alerts should be greatly improved.