United Kingdom

A Patient Safety Commissioner was appointed for the first time

  • The independent commissioner will act as an advocate for patients and take the lead in improving the safety of medicines and medical devices
  • Dr Hughes will improve how the healthcare system listens to patients, government and the NHS to put patients first.

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay has today appointed Dr Henrietta Hughes OBE as England’s first Patient Safety Commissioner.

Adding to and extending existing work to improve the safety of medicines and medical devices, the Commissioner’s appointment is in response to Baroness Cumberledge’s recommendations on patient safety published in 2020.

Dr. Hughes will be an independent point of contact for patients, giving voice to their concerns to ensure they are heard. He will help the NHS and Government to better understand what they can do to put patients first, promote patient safety and the importance of the views of patients and other members of the public.

Bringing with him a wealth of experience in patient care as a National Guardian for the NHS, where he encouraged staff to speak up and support whistleblowers, Dr Hughes will be a champion for patients. He will continue to work as a GP and chairman of Childhood First, a charity which promotes and promotes care, treatment and rehabilitation for children and teenagers.

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said:

It is important that we put patient safety first and continue to listen to and protect the voice of patients.

Dr Henrietta Hughes brings with her a wealth of experience as the first Patient Safety Commissioner to improve the safety of medicines and medical devices and her work will help support NHS staff as we work hard to overcome Covid delays.

Patient Safety Commissioner Henrietta Hughes said:

I am humbled and honored to be appointed as the first Patient Safety Commissioner. This vital role, recommended in Do No Harm First, will affect patient safety in relation to medicines and medical devices.

The voice of patients must be at the heart of healthcare design and delivery. I would like to pay tribute to the incredible courage, tenacity and compassion of all those who gave evidence to the report, their families and all those who continue to campaign tirelessly for safer treatment.

I will collaborate with patients, the health care system, and others to ensure that all patients get the information they need, that all patients’ voices are heard, and that the system responds quickly to keep people safe.

The first Do No Harm report, led by Baroness Cumberledge and published in 2020, looked at problems with the use of Primodos, sodium valproate and pelvic mesh, and was commissioned because women did not feel their concerns were being heard or acknowledged. :

It highlighted the need to better protect and listen to patients and proposed the creation of an independent patient safety commissioner. In July 2021, the Government published its official response to the recommendations set out in this report, including a commitment to appoint a Patient Safety Commissioner covering medicines and medical devices.

The government continues to take steps to improve patient safety. A statutory duty of candor has been implemented requiring Trusts to inform patients if their safety is at risk, legal protections for whistleblowers have been introduced and in 2019 an NHS Patient Safety Strategy was published to create a culture of safety, learning. across the NHS. The Health and Care Act 2022 also established the Health Services Safety Investigation Authority to investigate patient safety in England.

This appointment was made as a result of open competition in accordance with the Public Appointments Administration Code and following pre-scheduled scrutiny hearings with the Health and Social Care Commission.

A Patient Safety Commissioner was appointed for the first time

SourceA Patient Safety Commissioner was appointed for the first time

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