Integrated care boards (ICBs) should work with primary care providers that wish to adopt the new Patient Safety Incident Response Framework (PSIRF), NHS England has said.
The new document, published 16 August, replaces a previous framework, the Serious Incident Framework, and sets out how and when trusts should conduct investigations.
NHS England said the new framework’s key aim is to help trusts better focus on making improvements, rather than ‘repeatedly responding’ to patient safety incidents based on ‘subjective thresholds and definitions of harm’.
Trusts are expected to implement the framework over the next 12 months, with the CQC assessing their performance against the new standard.
While the framework is intended for trusts, NHS England noted that primary care providers may wish to adopt the framework, and should contact their ICB if they wish to do so.
It added: ‘Further exploration is required to ensure successful implementation of the PSIRF approaches within primary care. The National Patient Safety Team will work with a small number of primary care early adopters to explore how the PSIRF can be adapted to this sector.’
The frameworks other core aims include:
- Engaging and involving all those affected by patient safety incidents, including families and staff
- Applying a range of ‘system-based approaches’ to learning from incidents to explore the ‘contributory factors’ to an incident
- Oversight focused on strengthening the response system, with ICBs expected to consider the effectiveness of providers’ incident response processes.
Rory Deighton, senior acute lead at the NHS Confederation, said: ‘The framework will allow trusts operating in acute settings, mental health, ambulance services and community providers to focus resources on investigations which will have the greatest impact and to develop a greater understanding of why serious incidents occur rather than apportioning blame.’
He added that with the ‘difficult winter’ ahead and the NHS under strain, the flexibility around the 12-month implementation process is welcome.
‘However, they will also be concerned that acute workforce shortages will make implementation of these important changes very challenging.’
Miriam Deakin, interim deputy chief executive and director of policy and strategy of NHS Providers, said that ‘implementation will be challenging without a bolstered workforce and adequate time for staff to attend training’.
She said: ‘This is yet another example of why we urgently need to see a fully costed and funded workforce plan.
‘Beyond staffing, national bodies must remain engaged with trusts to understand the challenges they face and the risks they manage, and to ensure that trusts have the necessary resources, capacity and time required to ensure that this framework is properly embedded.’