Jeremy Hunt says hospitals will be obliged to report medical errors

The Health Secretary believes 'a lack of honesty when things go wrong adds insult to injury and causes unnecessary pain and suffering for everyone'

Whitehall Editor

Every hospital in England will have a legal duty to own up to mistakes and errors that cause harm to patients under a new “duty of candour” to be introduced by the Government.

Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, will announce today that in future all healthcare providers must notify patients about incidents where severe or moderate harm has occurred, and provide an apology.

At the same time Mr Hunt will lay out new plans to reduce avoidable medical errors in the NHS by half over the next three years – potentially saving up to 6,000 lives a year.

Under a new initiative hospitals will be asked to draw up plans to reduce medication errors, blood clots, bed sores and other preventable incidents.

Hospitals which satisfactory implement their strategies will be able to reduce the premiums they contribute to the NHS Litigation Authority, which each year pays out £1.3bn on litigation claims. However neither initiative will apply in Scotland and Wales unless the devolved Governments follow suit.

Both aspects of the plan are significant victories for campaigners who have long lobbied politicians and the medical profession for a more robust approach to dealing with cases of clinical errors.

Peter Walsh, the chief executive of Action against Medical Accidents, said it represented “potentially the biggest advance in patients’ rights and safety since the creation of the NHS”.

“For decades the NHS has frowned upon cover-ups but has been prepared to tolerate them,” he said.

“A lack of honesty when things go wrong adds insult to injury and causes unnecessary pain and suffering for everyone. Organisations that hide the truth are also less likely to learn from it.”

Mr Hunt will announce both changes at the Virginia Mason hospital in Seattle which, following the death of a woman who was accidentally injected with cleaning fluid 10 years ago, has turned itself around to become one of the safest hospitals in the world.

“I want to make Mid Staffs a turning point for an entire health economy,” he will say. “We now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity.”

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Internal Sales Executive

    £20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive

    £20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Finance / Accounts Manager

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established and expanding ...

    Recruitment Genius: Bench Locksmith / Engineer / Technician

    £14000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading Key Cutting equipm...

    Day In a Page

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss