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Call for evidence: Draft Health Service Safety Investigations Bill

16 May 2018

The new Joint Committee on the Draft Health Service Safety Investigations Bill has published its call for evidence.

The Committee invites written evidence to be received by 8 June 2018. The Committee is working to a tight deadline and will report by 24 July 2018.

Draft Health Service Safety Investigations Bill provisions

The draft Bill would make provision in relation to three main subject matters:

  • First, the establishment of the Health Service Safety Investigations Body (“HSSIB”) as an independent statutory body, with powers to conduct investigations into incidents or accidents within the NHS which appear to evidence risks affecting patient safety.
  • Second, the Bill creates a ‘safe space’ within which participants can provide information for the purposes of an investigation by imposing a prohibition on the disclosure of information held by the HSSIB in connection with an investigation. Information will only be able to be disclosed in certain limited circumstances or by order of the High Court.
  • Third, the Bill makes provision for the accreditation of NHS trusts and foundation trusts to carry out investigations into patient safety with the benefit of ‘safe space’.

Areas of interest

We shall explore, and would welcome views on any or all of, the key questions outlined below.

General issues

  • Will the HSSIB command the confidence of patients and their families and healthcare professionals?
  • Should the HSSIB’s remit extend to private healthcare?
  • Can patients and the public be confident that ‘safe space’ investigations will remedy the deficiencies of existing NHS complaints mechanisms?
  • Are there any deficiencies in the drafting of the Bill that would prevent it from achieving the Government’s objectives?

Establishment and powers

  • Will the establishment of the HSSIB add to confusion about the responsibilities of the various bodies currently dealing with complaints and safety concerns in healthcare?
  • Would the draft Bill equip the HSSIB with adequate powers to achieve the Government’s objective of improving patient safety, or the ability of the Secretary of State to secure the improvement of the safety of the NHS? Does it go too far in any respect?
  • Would it be appropriate to model the powers and status of the HSSIB more closely on similar bodies which investigate safety incidents in the aviation, rail or maritime industries?
  • Does the draft Bill ensure that the HSSIB is sufficiently independent of both the NHS and the Government?

Safe space

  • Is a legally protected ‘safe space’ necessary to successfully undertake NHS investigations?
  • Will creating a ‘safe space’ for safety investigations “encourage patients, families, NHS staff and other participants in an HSSIB investigation to speak freely for the purposes of promoting learning and improving safety”?
  • Would the draft Bill adequately protect from disclosure information given to the HSSIB?


  • Will the public have confidence in trusts carrying out their own ‘safe space’ investigations, and will this build public confidence in the NHS safety investigations system more generally?
  • Are the accreditation provisions in the draft Bill satisfactory?
  • Will the HSSIB be able to maintain standards of investigation?


  • Will the HSSIB be able to effect change and ensure its recommendations are acted upon?
  • Would there be adequate safeguards for people referred to in HSSIB reports?

Further information