A recent consultation by the Department of Health regarding safe space has been shelved.

Safe Space Proposal Abandoned

The proposal was to apply “safe space” principles not only to Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) investigations but to local NHS Trust investigations.

This met with concerns from patient and staff representatives as it seemed to contravene the ethos of the duty of candour and staff considered it a potential way for employers to force self-incrimination.

Professional regulators also raised objections that it would have a negative impact on fitness to practice investigations.

Accordingly for the foreseeable future, NHS Trusts patient safety investigations will continue to be carried out in accordance with the Serious Incident framework and there will be no change to the usual rules around disclosure of materials generated as part of the investigation.

All NHS Trusts are now obliged to comply with the “learning from deaths” guidance carrying out case record reviews in relation to a wide range of patient deaths and involving families and carers in the investigation process.

The HSIB investigations will however contain the safe space principles which became operational on 1 April 2017 and the hope is the HSIB will play a strategic role in bringing about improvement in local NHS incident investigations.

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