But bad practices and processes can set in and poor controls can go unchallenged. Manual mundane paper-based processes are seldom followed, detailed records of bad events seldom come to light.
Even when staff raise concerns, they are not always acted on, due to work load or impact on overstretched budgets.
Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb, who has been active in supporting the families in the Gosport case, has described how the hospital “closed ranks”. Similar conclusions were drawn by the inquiries into Bristol, Morecambe Bay and Stafford Hospital.
Hence, it has taken relatives 20 years of fighting to get the full scale of what went on at Gosport into the light.
The role of the CQC is to make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and they encourage care services to improve.
They monitor, inspect and regulate services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety and they publish what they find, including performance ratings to help people choose the right place to have their care.
When they identify poor practice, they record and highlight the area for improvement and, if it is serious, will down-grade the area of care for improvement.
You need only look at the most recent NHS staff survey in England to see the system is far from perfect. Nearly a third of those surveyed did not feel secure in raising concerns about unsafe care. An even greater number were not confident their complaints would be acted on.
What’s needed is a truly independent monitoring system where paper records cannot be recreated or lost, where texts cannot be deleted and emails erased.
The simple answer is yes, but not just monitoring, actively contacting the point of care provider in person and bring to their attention a failing fridge or freezer by a trained independent member of staff. The storage of vaccines, bloods, insulin and a range of medicines don’t just become inactive, they can become outright dangerous if used, putting lives at risk.
It’s therefore important that an alert or alarm is raised which triggers a corrective action report which requires action. This is unavoidable and investigating the cause is mandatory as well as detailing the corrective action, all these processes being trackable and auditable for quality control processes required to maintain patient safety and to provide healthy outcomes.
With a new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care in post, Matt Hancock, it can be expected there will be a renewed focus on technology in the NHS, it was recently reported that Hospitals are still using 9,000 fax machines, according to a survey that demonstrates how the NHS struggles to embrace modern technology.
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