Encouraging patients, families and carers to raise concerns about healthcare was the big issue under discussion at a British Medical Association (BMA) event earlier this week.
The BMA’s Patient Safety Symposium event focused strongly on the report by Sir Robert Francis (Freedom to Speak Up) which makes 20 recommendations towards creating ‘an open and honest reporting culture in the NHS.’
During her opening of the symposium, BMA president Baroness Ilora Finlay said that it was important to listen to what was going on in the NHS and, in particular, “listening to patients and their concerns and inputting those concerns into the system.”
Also in attendance was BMA council chair Mark Porter who said that it was essential that doctors could speak up without fear of an adverse response: “This is so distressing for people looking in from outside to understand. It can be hard for doctors to know whether and when to speak up.
“All doctors are acutely aware of preventing harm to patients, but we have all seen what can happen when a patient voice is ignored.”
Dr Porter recalled the failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust and said that there were other examples in the NHS where patients had not been put first.
Supporting Dr Porter’s views was Paul Durham, a strategy team member at the Care Quality Commission (CQC) who said that “everyone can learn from positive and negative experiences of care.”
And BMA patient liaison group chair Catherine Macadam said:”We want to learn from different perspectives, clearly understanding what we can all do to influence patient safety, change systems and change culture.”
To carry forward the work of the symposium the BMA has set up a task group to consider how best to implement the recommendations in the Freedom to Speak Up report.