Reaction: Professor Don Berwick's NHS patient safety report

Professor Don Berwick's patient safety report was commissioned by prime minister David Cameron to 'make zero harm a reality' following the failings in Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

Mr Dickson: 'The report acknowledges the important contribution our new system of checks for doctors can make towards patient safety, (known as revalidation).'
Mr Dickson: 'The report acknowledges the important contribution our new system of checks for doctors can make towards patient safety, (known as revalidation).'

It calls for the government to ensure that the NHS has safe staffing levels and that staff are 'well supported'.

Chief executive of the GMC Niall Dickson said: 'The healthcare system in this country, as in many others, has been slow to recognise that safety must be its key organising principle - this important report puts safety first, and, if implemented, will improve care and save lives. We particularly welcome the call for a transparent culture that puts patients' needs and views first - this is at the heart of our guidance for doctors.

'We are also delighted that the report acknowledges the important contribution our new system of checks for doctors can make towards patient safety, (known as revalidation). As a result, we are already seeing organisations improve monitoring of and support for doctors, and in time it should mean giving them better data and information to assess their results and performance.'

Catherine Foot, assistant director of policy at The King's Fund, said: 'We know from Mid Staffs and elsewhere the importance of maintaining adequate staffing levels. We welcome the recommendation that NICE should interrogate the available evidence to develop guidance for the NHS.

'Staffing levels are likely to be too complex for a nationally mandated minimum staff-to-patient ratio to be set. Hospital boards should use good evidence in deciding on the right staffing level for different services, and indicative staffing ratios could be used to highlight cause for concern, but feedback from patients and staff is just as important, if not more so.'

NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar said: 'Blame and fear will get us nowhere. Prof Berwick's belief that a statutory duty of candour will not work for individuals seems sensible. The introduction of such a measure could have unintended consequences that increase rather than remove a climate of fear. However, we support such a duty for organisations, who we rightly expect to be transparent about their standards of care including critically when they fail.'

Viewpoint: Professor Berwick's report welcome but why no minimum staffing levels?

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