Public Inquiry: Patient Safety in Scotland

Internationally it is recognised that there are a large number of avoidable deaths and , and major harm to patients. The Scottish government has refused to acknowledge that it is a problem. This is despite us having the same and worse problems than those that resulted in Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust being prosecuted following the public inquiries. The scandals found elsewhere in the UK are repeated here. In Scotland they go without any investigation by a regulator and there are likely to be about 2,000 reasonably preventable premature deaths in healthcare and related social care each year (see the case for the public inquiry Appendix1). There are not the independent investigations of these deaths and procedures are not followed.

Almost all the organisations involved in patient safety in Scotland have failed the people of Scotland. This needs to change. The priority is for the Scottish government to finally recognise the problem of avoidable deaths. It is for them to take immediate actions to bring Scotland into legal compliance and so ensure patient safety. Currently the law that should protect patients is being disregarded, not complied with or enforced. The inquiry is needed to investigate the fundamental failings of the organisations highlighted in the inquiry case. The inquiry is needed to create a system of patient safety fit for purpose in Scotland.

The case for the inquiry is with the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Scottish Affairs Committee and is awaiting their action. An Executive Summary is available as well as the full inquiry case. Substantial evidence builds continually and there are updates to the case.

To put this into context, the inquiry into the Piper Alpha disaster led to major improvements to safety on all oil rigs. The Mid Staffordshire inquiries have led to major improvements to healthcare in the rest of the UK. The problems in Scottish healthcare are very much greater than either of these as the case for a public inquiry clearly illustrates. Without an inquiry all these serious problems will continue and worsen. Patients and relatives will feel the very serious consequences of these failings and we will fall further behind the rest of the UK in our standard of healthcare.