Health Secretary sets out ambition for a culture of patient safety in the NHS

Posted 11th June 2010

News excerpt from Department of Health's website 9th June 2010

In his first speech since taking up the post, the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, said he would put his heart and soul into the improvement of health outcomes by making patients the driving force of improvements to the NHS. Not just as beneficiaries of care but as participants, with shared decision-making.

As part of his broader plans to align payments with the quality of patient care, the Health Secretary said that hospitals should be responsible for reducing the number of emergency readmissions following treatment, and support treatment at home, as part of a single payment. Making hospitals responsible for a patient’s ongoing care after discharge will create more joined-up working between hospitals and community services. This will improve quality and performance and shift the focus to the outcome for the patient, rather than the volume of activity paid to the hospital.

Speaking to an audience of patients, carers and staff at an event at the Bromley by Bow Centre in London, hosted by the Patients Association and National Voices, the Health Secretary challenged the NHS to:

  • make a cultural shift. From a culture responsive mainly to orders from the top-down, to one responsive to patients, in which patient safety is put first.
  • devolve power through the unleashing of meaningful information to patients. Comparative data about standards and patient experience will drive up standards, as the data will influence patient choice. A transparent NHS is a safer NHS.
  • engage people in their care so that, “no decision is made about me, without me”, and give patients the opportunity to provide feedback in real time, reflecting the experience of their care.
  • embrace leadership by setting NHS professionals free from a target-centred and bureaucratic system that compromises patient care, to one focussed on the quality, innovation, productivity and safety required to improve patient outcomes.
  • adopt a holistic approach by looking at the entire patient pathway from preventative health and well-being measures, through to hospital and community care.
  • align payments in the NHS to drive up the quality of care that patients receive. In the first instance, through introducing payments which encapsulate a more integrated care pathway by giving hospitals responsibility for a patient’s care for 30 days after they are discharged.

Source: Department of Health Website

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