Health Secretary Launches Attack On NHS Treatment Of Patients

Posted By Moosa Duke - 24th June 2013

In a speech delivered last week entitled, ‘The silent scandal of patient safety’, the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, highlighted the shortcomings within the NHS in relation to patient treatment.

He quoted figures which suggest that half a million people are “harmed unnecessarily each year”. He added that around 3,000 patients lost their lives last year due to failings in care given, which equated to “more than 8 patients dying needlessly every single day”.

Whilst Mr Hunt acknowledged that some NHS leaders have made progress over the past few years, he highlighted five key areas where progress needs to be made:

  • “We need to foster an open and transparent culture where problems are always aired and never swept under the carpet”
  • NHS frontline staff should be encouraged to do “the right thing”
  • We need to strengthen the doctor/patient relationship
  • System incentives; that is “we need to ensure that our commissioning, regulatory and inspection systems give adequate weight to patient safety issues”.
  • We “need a better understanding of how proper measurement works… Every Board member and every ward manager needs to be able to answer the question – “how safe is my hospital or how safe is my ward?”

Mr Hunt’s closing remark was, “A change of this magnitude will not be instant, nor will it be easy. But it is possible. And our NHS should aspire to nothing less”.

Dr Paul Flynn, chair of the BMA’s consultants committee commented on Mr Hunt’s speech: “We absolutely agree that patient safety should be the top priority of every NHS organisation. 

It is already the case that everyone admitted to hospital is under the ultimate care of an individual consultant.  As long as patient confidentiality issues are taken into account, we welcome measures to make clearer which staff are responsible for their safety”.

For the full text of Mr Hunt’s speech, please visit: