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The Health Secretary today asked Sir Bruce Keogh to carry out a review of codes of practice for health professionals
The move by Jeremy Hunt came as a report into the failings over the deaths of mothers and babies at Morecambe Bay was made public.
The review to be carried out by Sir Bruce, NHS England’s National Medical Director, will be of the professional codes of both doctors and nurses.
The Secretary of State said: “While we have made good progress in encouraging a culture of openness and transparency in the NHS, this report makes clear there is a long way to go.
“It seems medical notes were destroyed and mistakes covered up at Morecambe Bay, quite possibly because of a defensive culture where the individuals involved thought they would lose their jobs if they were discovered to have been responsible for a death. But within sensible professional boundaries, no one should lose their job for an honest mistake made with the best of intentions. The only cardinal offence is not to report that mistake openly so that the correct lessons can be learned.
Mr Hunt added: “The recent recommendations from Sir Robert Francis on creating an open and honest reporting culture in the NHS will begin to improve this. But I have today asked Professor Sir Bruce Keogh to review the professional codes of both doctors and nurses and to ensure that the right incentives are in place to prevent people covering up instead of reporting and learning from mistakes.”
Sir Bruce led the seminal Keogh Inquiry into hospitals with high death rates two years ago that led to a lasting improvement in hospital safety standards and has long championed openness and transparency in healthcare.
For this latest vital review, he will lead a team that will include the Professional Standards Authority, the General Medical Council, Nursing and Midwifery Council and Health Education England, and will report back to the Health Secretary later this year.
The report published today into the failings at Morecambe Bay makes 44 recommendations for the Trust and wider NHS, aimed at ensuring the failings are properly recognised and acted upon.
The recommendations include a national review of the provision of maternity and paediatric care in rural, isolated or difficult to recruit to areas.
NHS England today announced details of a major review of the commissioning of NHS maternity services, as promised in the NHS Five Year Forward View.
The review will assess current maternity care provision and consider how services should be developed to meet the changing needs of women and babies.
Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, said: “Most mums say they get great NHS maternity care, but equally we know we can do better in many places, and today’s Morecambe Bay report is truly shocking. So the time is right to take stock, and consider how we can best deliver maternity care safely in every part of the country, while better meeting the high expectations women and their families rightly have.”
This review is expected to report in by the end of the year.