The Health and Care Bill has now been enacted, opening the way for many of the government’s proposed changes to the systems which deliver patients’ health and social care.
The Health and Care Act will also bring in changes to the way patient safety incidents are investigated. For many injured patients, this will further restrict access to key information and evidence about what went wrong during their care.
The legislation will establish the Health Services Safety Investigations Body (HSSIB) as an independent, non-departmental public body of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). HSSIB will take over investigations of most patient safety incidents in NHS care from the current Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch, commonly known as HSIB.
HSSIB’s new status will give the organisation more power to access information necessary to carry out its investigations. Its new independence is designed to increase confidence in its ability to investigate NHS patient safety incidents in a way that is impartial, without blame, and helps learning to improve patient safety. However, HSSIB’s new power to use ‘safe space’ to hide from injured patients and their lawyers evidence gathered during HSSIB investigations, has been criticised as allowing the investigatory body ‘to operate behind a curtain of secrecy’.
What happens now?
HSIB say that they expect to begin operating as HSSIB in April 2023. In the meantime, the organisation will begin its year-long transition to become an ‘arm’s length body’ or ALB, during which time a chairperson, non-executives and executive team will be appointed for the HSSIB.
During this period of transition, HSIB’s maternity investigations will be transferred to a new special health authority, which will be set up via secondary legislation. HSIB anticipates that the new special health authority will start operating from April 2023.
Helping injured patients after medical negligence
At Boyes Turner we believe that injured patients and the parents of injured children have a right to know and understand what went wrong after they have been harmed by mistakes in their care. We have helped countless families investigate and understand the cause of their injury. Where severe injury was caused by medical negligence we help clients obtain an apology, ease financial hardship with interim payments and provide for the injured person’s lifelong needs with compensation.
If you have been contacted by HSIB or NHS Resolution following medical treatment or injury, we advise you to contact us for advice and guidance straight away.
If you or a member of your family have suffered serious injury as a result of medical negligence and you would like to find out more about an HSIB investigation, dealing with NHS Resolution or making a claim, you can talk to one of our specialist solicitors, free and confidentially, by contacting us here.