Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Can zero harm be a reality in NHS?

Press release from the NHS Commissioning Board confirms that "Professor Donald Berwick is being brought to the NHS to chair a National Advisory Group on the Safety of Patients in England" (see terms of reference and members). David Cameron has asked Berwick "to make zero harm a reality in our NHS". At least he's appreciated that the Francis report needs to be put in the context of patient safety research (see previous post).

Berwick talks well (eg. see video on BBC website). He recognises that most healthcare staff intend well and I too want the NHS to be the safest in the world. But it's misleading to expect no errors in healthcare (see another previous post) and Berwick might need to refine at least his language. Being a doctor is not the same as being an airline pilot.

Berwick must be glad to have left the vitriol of US healthcare politics behind him (see Who is Don Berwick?) It's difficult to relate to some of the emotive language used there (see previous post). But UK healthcare politics too can be based on misunderstandings (see previous post). Hopefully, Berwick and his group can help take the Francis report forward in a sensible way.