South Yorkshire hospital trusts ‘report too few safety incidents’

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Three hospital trusts in South Yorkshire are not reporting safety breaches often enough, according to a new official list.

An NHS website launched yesterday allows patients to check staffing levels on wards, infection rates, and whether hospital trusts are ‘open and honest’ about reporting major and minor safety incidents.

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, the Rotherham Foundation Trust and Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals were named as having a poor culture of reporting breaches.

Sheffield and Doncaster were rated ‘poor’ for a ‘potential under-reporting of patient safety incidents’ - while Rotherham received the same rating for a ‘potential under-reporting of safety incidents resulting in death or severe harm’.

Barnsley Hospital’s reporting rate was ‘as expected’.

Dr David Throssell, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals’ medical director, said staff were being reminded of the need to flag up even the most minor safety incidents, and a new electronic system had been introduced to make the process quicker and easier.

“Never events, serious untoward incidents or other safety issues are routinely reported to our public board meetings, we do not hesitate to ask for independent scrutiny, and learning from incidents is shared with teams internally so that any actions can be taken to limit the chances of an incident occurring again.

“This is not the behaviour of an organisation that does not have an honest and transparent approach to safety or reporting of incidents.”

He continued: “Our rates of reporting for never events and serious untoward incidents are comparable with other NHS trusts, but we recognise that we need to continue to reinforce to staff that all incidents should be reported even if no patients were affected or the member of staff may feel the incident was very minor.

“We recently moved from paper forms to electronic incident reporting to make it easier and quicker to report an incident. We have also put ourselves forward to be one of the first 12 trusts to join the new Sign Up To Safety initiative which will further encourage staff to report all incidents or concerns they may have.

“Providing feedback to staff on the outcome of the incident they report is also a key aim of the work we are doing.”

Dr Throssell added: “Sheffield Teaching Hospitals have always had a very open and proactive approach to patient safety. This is reflected in the fact that our clinical outcomes, infection and mortality rates are amongst the best in the NHS.”

A spokeswoman for Rotherham Hospital said its rating was being taken ‘extremely seriously’.

“Over the past 12 months the trust has moved to hold board meetings in public, joined the Open and Honest Care initiative and significantly increased the number of serious incidents reported and investigated,” she said.

“All known incidents will be reported and even when there is doubt about whether an incident meets the definitions, a report will be made in the spirit of public accountability and transparency. Over the course of the next month the trust will work with the Clinical Commissioning Group to provide assurance on reporting levels.”

And Richard Parker, Doncaster’s director of nursing, midwifery and quality, said: “On April 1 the trust moved away from a paper based incident reporting system which despite showing a continual increase in the number of incidents reported, did cause delays in ensuring data reached the national database in time for their deadline.

“We now use an electronic system which allows staff to report incidents more easily and prevents delays. Staff have received and continue to be offered training on its use and the importance of early reporting of any type of incident. We would like to reassure people that any incident is openly reported and thoroughly investigated.”