HR managers in the NHS have welcomed the creation of a new agency that will boost patient safety by introducing a national system for reporting failures and mistakes in the health service.
The National Patient Safety Agency will run a mandatory reporting system for logging all mistakes to ensure that lessons are learnt when things go wrong.
It will collect and analyse information on adverse events in the NHS, and where problems are identified it will draw up improved procedures, specify national goals and establish mechanisms to track progress.
John Adsett, secretary of the Association of Human Resource Healthcare Managers, said the creation of the NPSA is a positive step. He said, "I think the problem is a cultural one. At the moment the NHS is very much a blame organisation and that is not helped by comments from ministers and press witch-hunts.
"To turn into a learning organisation we have to learn from our mistakes and undergo a huge culture change. It is a step that needs to be taken."
The NPSA aims to reduce to zero the number of patients dying or being paralysed by maladministered spinal injections by the end of 2001, and reduce by 25 per cent the number of instances of harm in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology which result in litigation by 2005.
It also wants to cut by 40 per cent the number of serious errors in the use of prescribed drugs by 2005 and significantly reduce the number of suicides by mental health patients on wards by 2002.
Chief medical officer Liam Donaldson said, "It is estimated that 850,000 incidents and errors occur in the NHS each year - this is unacceptable.
"The agency's system of identifying, recording and analysing and reporting adverse events will be at the heart of the shift to a more blame-free, open NHS where lessons are shared and learnt."
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