Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and NHS trusts must now appoint a patient safety specialist by the end of November 2020, NHS England has announced.
The organisations have been told to identify one or more individuals for the role and to notify the national patient safety team by the deadline, which had originally been set for April this year.
Patient safety specialists will be the lead patient safety experts within CCGs and will be expected to support ‘the development of a patient safety culture and safety systems’.
NHS England said it should not be necessary for CCGs to recruit people to fill the role, and two or more people may share the position, but it is expected that the specialists identified are ‘people in existing patient safety-related roles’.
From 2021, the specialists should be in a position to ‘focus solely on patient safety’, it added.
In the guidance document, NHS England said: ‘We know significant patient safety expertise and experience already exist across the NHS; with people in many places effectively fulfilling the role of a patient safety specialist in all but name. Formally creating this role will provide status and the expectation that having a patient safety specialist who is fully trained in the national patient safety syllabus is standard across the NHS.’
It added: ‘The patient safety specialist role does not diminish the fundamental principle that patient safety is everyone’s responsibility and they will be key in supporting work to make patient safety a core element of training for every member of staff in their organisation’.
This requirement to identify a patient safety specialist does not currently apply to smaller organisations, but NHS England encouraged them to ‘consider their future approach’.