Responding to the Independent Review of Gross Negligence Manslaughter and Culpable Homicide, Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, said: “There will always be a need for accountability by both organisations and professionals, but as this report recognises, we need to change the way we think about patient safety, from a conversation about blame to one of learning.
“This is already the ambition of national bodies concerned with safety, but in a climate of constrained resources and huge pressure on staff, it has proved incredibly difficult to gain the confidence of those working on the clinical front line that they will not be victims of a blame game.
“We know staff fear that if they engage in reflective practice, they open themselves up to liability or criminal proceedings, and this can limit what they are willing to share, in turn preventing meaningful learning from taking place.
“The report rightly identifies a need to introduce legislation to protect reflective practice. This will be a necessary step towards restoring faith in the system, but will require careful nuance to ensure that those acts of negligence that are found to be malicious are not afforded blanket protection, and that patients are protected from the very small number of incompetent practitioners.
“Renewed staff confidence will depend upon the way we develop a learning culture which will require everyone involved to come together and act on the findings of this report.”