New safety standards published for invasive procedures

A set of new national safety standards have been published today to support NHS hospitals to provide safer surgical care.

The National Safety Standards for Invasive Procedures (NatSSIPs) aim to reduce the number of patient safety incidents related to invasive procedures in which surgical Never Events could occur.

These new standards set out broad principles of safe practice and advise healthcare professionals on how they can implement best practice, such as through a series of standardised safety checks and education and training. The standards also support NHS providers to work with staff to develop and maintain their own, more detailed, local standards and encourage the sharing of best practice between organisations.

With support from NHS England the NatSSIPs have been developed by a multidisciplinary group of clinical practitioners, professional leaders, human factors experts and patient representatives. They build on the existing WHO Surgical Checklist and promote the effective performance of the Five Steps to Safer Surgery guidance.

The standards follow the Surgical Never Events Taskforce Report that was published by NHS England last year making a number of recommendations on how to reduce Never Events in the operating theatre environment. Key to those recommendations was the development of a set of new high-level national standards that encompass the patient journey from admission, through to the procedure, and on to discharge from the operating area.

Dr Mike Durkin, NHS England Director of Patient Safety, said: “This is the first time that national safety standards have been set and endorsed by all relevant professional bodies. These include the royal colleges, the Care Quality Commission, the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the General Medical Council, Monitor, the Trust Development Agency, and Health Education England.

“The engagement and support of these organisations provides the leadership to ensure the standards will be wholeheartedly embraced across the NHS. Providers will be required to embed these NatSSIPs into their own local safety standards to support staff in providing the very best care and treatment for their patients.

“There are still unacceptable levels of harm caused by Never Events and Serious Incidents and so it remains vital that all health professionals remain vigilant in working to these standards so that we can continue to reduce the harm they cause to patients.”

”Dr William Harrop-Griffiths, Consultant Anaesthetist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and chair of the group that developed the standards, said: “The NatSSIPs contain 13 key standards which cover all aspects of the patient journey throughout an invasive procedure, ensuring safety checks are performed by the team providing care at every critical step in the pathway.

“However, this work is not just about establishing a network of safety checks. It is about ensuring that safe care standards are harmonised both within and between hospitals, and that learning from the development of local standards based on these national standards is shared by all.

“Perhaps most important is the document’s emphasis on education and training. This is crucial in the delivery of ever safer care: education in teamwork, education in human factors and training together as multidisciplinary teams to drive safety in patient-centred care”.

Clare Marx, President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, added: “The Royal College of Surgeons fully endorses these standards. They highlight the importance of learning from Never Events and complement other recent work around the need for clarity on the definition of a Never Event. We need to ensure that an understanding of causes and impact of Never Events is an integral part of the training for all medical and non-medical staff involved in caring for patients undergoing invasive procedures.”