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13 March 2013
Clinical Director of Scottish Government’s Quality Unit appointed to safety group

Clinical Director of Scottish Government’s Quality Unit appointed to safety group

The Clinical Director of the Scottish Government’s Quality Unit has been appointed to a newly-formed national advisory group on safety of patients in England.

Dr Jason Leitch, who features in the latest issue of Holyrood Magazine, has been drafted in in the wake of one of the biggest scandals in the history of the National Health Service.

Former Medicare and Medicaid head in the United States, Don Berwick, has been appointed by David Cameron to lead the group fresh from a damning report into failures at Stafford Hospital that called for “fundamental change” in the culture of the NHS.

The Francis Inquiry, which studied care at Stafford between 2005 and 2009, delivered 290 recommendations after uncovering years of abuse and neglect at the hospital that culminated in the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of patients.

The advisory group, which brings together leading experts from across the UK and internationally, seeks to form a set of principles for, and approach to implementation of, a whole-system approach to achieving harm-free care throughout the NHS in England.

Leitch became the National Clinical Lead for Safety in 2007 and was put in charge of the Scottish Patient Safety Programme by Derek Feeley, who is now the Chief Executive of NHSScotland and Director-General for Health and Social Care.

Since 2008 and the introduction of the Scottish Patient Safety Programme, the mortality rate in Scotland’s hospitals has fallen by 12.4 per cent – meaning that 8,500 lives have been saved.
Leitch, who worked with Berwick during a spell across the Atlantic working for the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, said: “I am delighted to be asked to join this important group to look at improving safety within the NHS in England. The Scottish Patient Safety Programme is an example of a country-wide approach to reducing harm across a healthcare system.

“And although we still have much to learn, since January 2008 and the introduction of the programme, Scotland’s hospital mortality has fallen by 12.4 per cent. I look forward to sharing what we have learned with this group and bringing some of the expert knowledge of other members back to Scotland.”

Speaking to Holyrood earlier this month in the aftermath of the Francis report, Leitch stressed that Mid Staffordshire is not a Scottish hospital nor something he would recognise in a Scottish hospital. “But, why would I not pay attention to that crisis? If I’m the guy charged with looking at healthcare quality in Scotland, along with hosts of others, why would I not pay attention to what he [Francis] says and assess those recommendations?”

However, he added that change would not be brought about by “publishing big books and telling people to wash their hands” but a method for change that, in Scotland, by teaching the science of improvement, the Scottish Patient Safety Programme gives frontline staff the capacity to drive forward.

The recommendations of the National Patient Safety Advisory Group will be delivered to the NHS Commissioning Board by the end of July.

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