Ombudsman writes to Health Secretary calling for statutory inquiry and action on patient safety in wake of Letby trial

Ombudsman Rob Behrens has written to the Health Secretary urging him to prioritise improving patient safety in the wake of the Lucy Letby trial. 

He has called for the proposed inquiry into the events at the Countess of Chester NHS Foundation Trust to have statutory status, so that it has use of all the legal powers available to get to the truth of what happened.

The Ombudsman has also reiterated his calls for the recommendations from his recent report on patient safety, Broken trust: making patient safety more than just a promise, to be actioned with urgency. These are:

  •  A thorough review by the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England to scrutinise the lack of compliance with the Duty of Candour. It is unacceptable that trusts still fail in meeting this duty nearly a decade after it was introduced.  
  • The Department of Health and Social Care should commission an independent review of what an effective set of patient safety oversight bodies would look like. There is widespread agreement that the current landscape is too crowded and confused, with significant overlaps in function that create uncertainty about who is responsible for what. This must be tackled head on.  
  • Conduct a thorough, independent review with cross-party support of NHS leadership, accountability and culture. This review should explore how leadership is accountable, can be regulated and held to the highest standards in the same way as clinicians.

Read the letter here.