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Use patient safety review to fight cuts

12 August 2013 - 9:36am

Physiotherapists should use the recommendations in a major report on NHS patient safety to fight staffing cuts and push for investment in training, said CSP chief executive Phil Gray.


Written by Professor Don Berwick (above) in response to the public inquiry into the neglect and abuse of patients at Stafford Hospital, the report was published this week by the National Advisory Group on the Safety of Patients in England.

Its key messages are the quality of care and patient safety, that patients must be put before targets, and that NHS staff – in the vast majority of cases – are not to blame for patient safety problems. Rather, ‘incorrect priorities do damage’, said Professor Berwick, who is regarded as a global expert on patient safety.

Among 10 recommendations, he called on the government and NHS bodies to ensure that trusts have sufficient staff levels now and in the future to provide safe care at all times.

However, Professor Berwick stopped short of setting minimum staffing ratios, instead saying trusts should monitor staffing levels to ensure patient care was not suffering.

He also called on the NHS to reduce patient harm by embracing a culture of learning, and said staff should have the support and training they needed to take pride and joy in their work.

Responding to the review, Mr Gray said its strong commitment to quality and patient safety as the primary focus was ‘warmly welcomed’.

He added that the recommendations on staffing and learning were very important but would bring their own challenges.

‘The challenge is this: will there be sufficient investment by the government to ensure the recommendation on staffing levels is actually deliverable? We know from the Francis report that staffing numbers in Stafford were squeezed and patient safety was compromised.

‘But at a time of £20 billion of NHS efficiency savings and expanding demands which cannot be met by productivity improvements alone, this is not going to be achieved without the government renewing its commitment to funding. The same applies for the recommendations on the NHS becoming an organisation for learning,’ said Mr Gray.

‘I would strongly encourage physiotherapists to read this report and take heart from what it says.’

Physios should also use the report locally to ‘push their organisations for investment in staff and training and remind them that any proposals to cut staff need to square with this report, which the government has endorsed’, Mr Gray added.

The CSP has produced tools which support members in meeting the key recommendations on patient care and learning in the review.

Léonie Dawson, CSP professional adviser, said members could use the CSP-supported audit tool (EQ5D) to measure the impact of their services on people’s lives, which is available in the patient reported outcome measures section of the CSP website.

They can also show how they are meeting the expectations of professional practice through a new self-evaluation tool available in the CPD resources workspace (see below).



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