New framework agreement between DHSC and safety watchdog

A framework agreement between the Department of Health and Social Care and the Health Services Safety Investigations Body (HSSIB) has been published setting out how they will work together to improve their common objective to improve patient safety. The agreement sets out a broad governance framework within which DHSC and HSSIB will operate.

It sets out :

  • HSSIB’s core responsibilities
  • the governance and accountability framework that applies between the roles of DHSC and HSSIB
  • how the day-to-day relationship works in practice, including in relation to governance and financial matters

As readers will know HSSIB has been established under the Health and Social Care Act 2022. Its statutory duties and functions in summary are to:

  • investigate incidents that occur in England during the provision of health care services and that have or may have implications for the safety of patients
  • identify risks to the safety of patients and address those risks by facilitating the improvement of systems and practices in the provision of NHS services or other health care services in England
  • determine which incidents to investigate. The Secretary of State may also direct HSSIB to carry out an investigation of particular qualifying incidents
  • set out time periods within which HSSIB aims to complete investigations
  • comply with requests made by the Secretary of State, NHS England or relevant NHS bodies to provide assistance in connection with the carrying out of investigations by disseminating information about best practice, developing standards to be adopted, and giving advice, guidance or training

The publication of the framework agreement reinforces the commitment to improve patient safety culture and how safety is managed by healthcare services across England.

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