Health Secretary wants compulsory way of issuing NHS safety directives


Health officials are looking at a mandatory way of sharing best safety practice across the NHS, Jeremy Hunt has said.

The news comes after NHS England medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh said the absence of any central NHS system ordering changes in medical practice on safety grounds was leaving patients in danger.

Sir Bruce told the Sunday Telegraph that one simple system was needed to issue safety directives.

Drawing attention to the interview, Health Secretary Mr Hunt told the Commons Health Select Committee: "At the moment the only mechanism we have for spreading best practice is a voluntary mechanism, which is essentially sharing of this information.

"The question Sir Bruce was asking is 'couldn't we have a system of mandation?' and we are looking into that because I agree with you it seems crazy if we know the best way of doing something that we don't just have a better way of guaranteeing that best practice is being adopted across the NHS."

Meanwhile Mr Hunt said he recognised that junior doctors "had a point" when raising concerns about staffing levels during the industrial dispute which led to the first walk-out of doctors in the NHS.

Sir Bruce Keogh. (Joe Giddens/PA)
Sir Bruce Keogh. (Joe Giddens/PA)

The protracted row between training medics and the Government over a new contact came to an end last November when junior doctors called off the threat of future industrial action.

The dispute had already led to thousands of operations and appointments being cancelled across the NHS as medics in England staged a series of strikes during 2016.

Mr Hunt said: "The most significant point, I thought, in the junior doctors' strike - without getting into the discussion of the contract - there was one point where I thought the junior doctors had a point, which is where they said 'You say you care about patient safety, but we go to work and there are gaps in our rotas, and there aren't enough people - colleagues - alongside us to allow us to deliver the kind of care that we want'."