MDU backs report for greater support for healthcare staff following patient safety incidents

A report calling for greater support for healthcare staff dealing with the aftermath of a patient safety incident has been welcomed by the Medical Defence Union (MDU).

An investigation by the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) found that NHS organisations need to do more to support staff after a patient safety incident and that the support offered needs to be effectively evaluated.

At the end of 2020, the MDU launched a peer support network to help doctors struggling to deal with a medico-legal investigation following a patient safety incident.

Dr Michael Devlin, MDU head of professional standards and liaison said:

"We know from our own members that individual healthcare professionals can be deeply affected by a patient safety incident. While the first consideration must be for the patient and the family affected, we wholeheartedly echo the call by the HSIB for more support, which is based on effective, evidence-based practice for all those dealing with the aftermath of an incident.

"As identified in the report, support offered to staff can vary widely. This is one of the reasons we launched our own peer support network for members struggling to cope with an investigation following an incident.

"The MDU service links up members going through an investigation with those who have been through a similar process who can share insights and experience of the process along with reassurance and hope.

"While doctors generally reflect on and try to learn from adverse events, many are concerned that they may be blamed for system failures outside their control or be judged on a single incident.   

"HSIB calls for support systems to be developed that focus on a just, learning and supportive culture with a focus on the importance of staff mental health. With healthcare professionals facing extreme pressure due to the current pandemic, we call on NHS employers to study the findings of this report and establish such systems without delay."

Find out more about the HSIB's report, Support for staff following patient safety incidents

You can also find out more about the peer support network in the MDU journal. 

This page was correct at publication on 14/01/2021. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.