I’ve been a big fan of the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) risk management standards, since they were first introduced in 1996.
And now that I have taken six NHS Trusts through to Levels 2 and 1, I’m delighted to see that earlier this week, NHSLA published the 2012-13 set of its Risk Management Standards for NHS Trusts providing Acute, Community, Mental Health and Learning Disability Services and for Non-NHS Providers of Care to NHS Patients.
Where and when implemented, the standards have three main benefits. The first is to help more patients receive better care or putting it another way, implementing the standards will help towards less patients receiving negligent care.
The second benefit is for those NHS England organisations demonstrating compliance with the standards. They will make less mistakes, waste less time and resources, have more through-put, be more productivity and potentially increase their turnover too.
And the third is that those NHS England organisations demonstrating compliance with the Standards, will receive a discount on their contributions to the NHSLA schemes – although the discount does not apply to non-NHS providers of Care to NHS Patients.
Now in their 16th year, the Standards continue to evolve and the 2012-13 Standards Manual has lots of cosmetic changes. Wording of statements relating to the process for documentation has changed to ensure consistency and to simplify the language although these changes do not amend what is required. The order and headings have been changed in the introduction of the manual to make it easier to understand and find the information that you need. The changes or additions to the introduction are :
- The objectives of the standards (p.6).
- Information for non-NHS providers on being assessed (p.10).
- How assessors are allocated (p.22).
- There are now 60 criteria in total, incorporating the mental health & learning disability criteria (p.13).
- Criteria that are removed from the standards are included in the manual as an appendix (p.12).
- Randomly selecting ten documents at all levels to check use and availability (p.15).
- At Levels 2 and 3 a number of criteria are being assessed through a review of health records, and a minimum of 75% implementation must be achieved (p.24).
- Pilot criteria will no longer be included in the manual and will be tested outside of the assessment process (p.12).
The manual also takes the opportunity to look beyond April 2013, when the 2012-13 Standards will be superceded by the 2013-14 standards – it is possible that in April 2013 that there may then be additional standards for :
- Burns and scalds
- Tissue viability
- Cannulation tissue viability
- Staff welfare (by amalgamating the stress, bullying and harassment and supporting staff criteria)
- Surgery check list
- Staffing levels
- Suicide (for mental health organisations)
Criteria that may be amended in 2013-14 include:
- Healthcare Records Management – where the assessors would see loose documentation in the health records, compliance will not be awarded for this criterion
- Risk Register – assessment process may be changed to include the use of a drop down list at Levels 2 and 3 to allow assessors to focus in more depth on a certain areas
- Clinical Handover – may focus on shift changes
And because of the changes and amendments listed above, the 2013/14 Standards may exclude explicit reference in the headings to :
- Bullying and Harassment
- Supporting Staff
- Secure Environment
- Being Open
- Hand Hygiene
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