Demand for better patient protection in Scotland

blood Image copyright PA
Image caption The Penrose Inquiry found that blood transfusions between 1970 and 1991 had put public safety at risk

Patient safety campaigners are due to meet Scotland's health minister to demand stronger measures in the wake of a series of health scandals.

The campaigners will argue that an independent health regulator needs to be established to protect the public.

Last Wednesday the Penrose Inquiry into the contaminated blood disaster found that the NHS in Scotland put public safety at risk.

It had continued to collect blood from prisoners during the 1980s.

The inquiry recommended that everyone who had a blood transfusion before 1991 should be tested for Hepatitis C.

The pressure group Patients First - which was set up by a number of NHS whistleblowers - will call on Health Secretary Shona Robison to protect patients by properly implementing the Health and Safety at Work Act in the NHS.

Earlier this month a health and safety expert said dozens of opportunities to prosecute NHS managers had been missed because the act was not being observed.

Former crown prosecutor Roger Livermore told BBC Scotland that, because of a failure to bring prosecutions, there was a "never-ending stream of avoidable harm".

Victimised and bullied

Patients First is also calling on the Scottish government to follow the recommendations of the "Freedom to Speak Up Review" which was released last month by Sir Robert Francis QC, who led the public inquiry into the Stafford Hospital scandal.

It said many staff who voiced concerns about patient safety were victimised, bullied or hounded out of their jobs.

Patients First wants Ms Robison to order health bosses to end the suspension, dismissal, bullying and victimisation of whistleblowers.

Nurse-turned-whistleblower, Rab Wilson, said: "The best thing that Shona Robison and Nicola Sturgeon can do here is to ensure that the Health and Safety at Work Act is applied rigorously in future in the NHS and that an independent health regulator is reappointed as soon as possible.

"These are the only measures that will ensure and guarantee in law that a scandal such as the haemophilia sufferers disaster can never happen again.

"The Penrose Inquiry as we know made one recommendation - 'to prevent unnecessary suffering going forward'.

"I believe that the SNP government will take these measures as they are the only sensible, practical and legal solutions that will ensure once and for all that, in 'going forward', families and individuals will never in the future have to suffer a tragedy of this magnitude."

A Scottish government spokesperson said: "Work is already under way to develop a robust package of measures which encourage and support staff to raise any concerns they may have about practices in NHS Scotland.

"We have welcomed Sir Robert Francis' Freedom to Speak Up Review, which will inform our thinking, and have recently consulted on introducing a duty of candour across health and social care.

"Healthcare Improvement Scotland has wide-ranging powers to scrutinise the NHS and to make sure services are improved across the NHS, while all NHS boards are fully accountable to the Scottish government."

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