This site is intended for health professionals only

Nurses at tribunals will get credit for honesty, Hunt announces

If a nurse makes a mistake but acknowledges it and apologises, they will get credit for it from the Nursing Midwifery Council, Jeremy Hunt announced as part of a shift to transparency.

The health minister said that any nurses, midwives or doctors who are called to a professional tribunal for a mistake will get credit if they are honest, and a “serious sanction” if they are dishonest.

This is part of a scheme announced today at a "global patient safety summit" that Hunt is hosting in London, to improve safety and openness in the NHS. Hunt said: “We need to unshackle ourselves from a quick-fix blame culture and acknowledge that sometimes bad mistakes can be made by good people.”

In response to the new measures, Martin Bromiley, chair of the Clinical Human Factors Group, said: “These measures are the first step of a critical journey. We mustn't tolerate gross negligence or willful acts, but likewise we need to recognise that the vast majority of clinicians come to work to do their very best, yet often are prevented from doing so by the very system they work within.”

Other key changes include:
·      Legal protection for anyone giving information following a hospital mistake, and 'safe spaces' for those co-operating with investigations.

·      NHS England will work with the Royal College of Physicians to develop a standardised method for reviewing the records of patients who have died in hospital.

·      From 2018, expert medical examiners will independently review and confirm the cause of all NHS deaths.

·      Creation of a 'learning from mistakes league' to show the ratings of NHS provider organisations in terms of their reporting culture (outstanding, good, significant concerns or poor).

·      England will become the first country in the world to publish estimates by every hospital trust of their own - non-comparable - avoidable mortality rates.

·      All trusts must publish a charter for openness and transparency so that staff have clear expectations of how they will be treated if they witness clinical errors.