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Safety investigation organisation criticised before it starts work

Will healthcare professionals trust the new patient safety investigators?

The NHS safety investigation co-ordination body for England scheduled to start work in April must be independent to be effective, a commentary in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine (JRSM) has warned.

The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) was set up by NHS Improvement to investigate risks to patient safety across healthcare, report findings and issue recommendations. The investigations are intended learning purposes and not intended to allocate liability or blame.

However, the JRSM commentary written by two patient safety experts calls for primary legislation to establish the HSIB’s independence, without which the organisation may not be regarded as legitimate or trustworthy. This is expected to discourage informants from providing crucial safety information.

The authors also called for the body to be given strong formal powers to access all the information it needed to ensure that everyone takes seriously their duty to participate in investigations.

The HSIB is a relatively small organisation with a budget of £4m.


  •  Is the HSIB robust and big enough to do the job? Do you think NHS clinicians and managers will welcome it and be happy to provide the information it needs?

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