In the media this week there is an article which sets out how, due to an investigation, compensation paid out for harm and deaths caused by NHS delays and blunders has doubled in five years. According to The Telegraph, ‘patients groups said the increase in negligence pay outs was “extremely worrying” – warning that lives are being lost because of a steep rise in waits for appointments, diagnosis and treatment. Official figures reveal that in 2017/18 the NHS paid out £655 million in compensation for such cases – an increase from £327 million in 2013/14.’
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the UK regulator with the goal to prevent workplace death, injury or ill health. The HSE achieves this by working with duty holders to help them understand the risks they create and how to manage them. Even with their excellent governance, breaches continue to occur throughout the healthcare industry.
If one examines the UK Health & Safety Executive (HSE) published breach tables, a number of NHS Trusts and associated healthcare institutions are noted as receiving considerable fines; money originally allocated for expenditure on healthcare. A quick search of published 2017/18 fines for healthcare HSE breaches included the Royal United Hospital (Bath) NHS Trust (£300,000), the Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust (£950,000 and £1,050,000), the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (£40,000), Imperial College London (Chelsea & Westminster Hospital – £35,000), Fife Health Board (£60,000), Ramsay Health Care UK Operations Limited (£275,000), the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (£333,333), United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (£500,000), the Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (£300,000), Caring Homes Healthcare Group Limited (£450,000), the Greater Glasgow Health Board (£50,000), the NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde (£50,000) and Millbrook Healthcare Ltd (£333,500). Almost all of these breaches occurred due to a failure to meet aspects of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Let us not forget that once a Trust has been prosecuted by the HSE, their public site provides a history of prosecutions displayed for a period of one year on the main register of prosecutions for health & safety offences. They are stored on this register for 9 years. Consequently, breaches remain in the public domain affecting reputations for almost a decade after they occur.
Recently I was in hospital after being diagnosed with sepsis. I can confirm my treatment by the NHS was exemplary and flawless. Indeed I will happily confirm they saved my life. I have two nurses in my immediate family and know the pressures they face. However, whilst I experienced fabulous healthcare and faultless care routines, I was also taken by how many areas of the hospital relied on handwritten whiteboards with marker pen updates and other manual processes. This seemed the process of a bygone age. Critical contact numbers and short codes were half rubbed on frequently updated noticeboards as were the names and number of staff in situ for the day’s shift. It struck me that reliance on archaic practices such as handwritten notices was a sign of why the forthcoming Department of Health and Social Care digital strategy for the NHS is so critical to the future of healthcare and how, once this is realised, RegTech should play a key role in staff and patient safety down the line.
Let us not forget the true purpose of RegTech. It is not merely to assist the finance sector. In our view it has developed to aid larger society and its organisations and businesses in operating in the most effective way by following and meeting important processes, rules and regulations as clearly set out by regulatory bodies.
Whilst each of the breaches listed, and all others have their own specific reasons for failure; in general, breaches frequently occur due to the failure of people to follow rules. Clearly the goal for the RegTech industry must be to help the HSE and healthcare organisations reduce these cases to as close to zero as possible. This will be achieved by providing trusted technical means for reducing people compliance breaches.
With a diverse healthcare and dynamic healthcare workforce, focus on budgets and challenges on services it is critical that a digital strategy is deployed that ensures that healthcare teams are kept fully up to date a all times, that as many compliance and regulatory issues can be addressed as quickly and easily as possible whilst meeting the needs of each specialist team. RegTech solutions such as document compliance meet such needs by driving a continuous focus on regulatory compliance which is turn is designed to cut down on issues such as those highlighted through the HSE. From the simple processes such as the regular washing of hands to the use of complex healthcare equipment; training, education and compliance are crucial in ensuing a safe and successful staff and patient care environment.
In providing the new technology which drives people compliance on a continual basis, so healthcare organisations can leverage more effective training and communication practices, update staff far faster and monitor those areas where compliance may be weaker. In that way, everyone benefits. In the view of Signarus, this is where RegTech gives back to the sector that matters most.
For more information on how Signarus compliance solutions can assist a healthcare organisation get in touch on (UK) 020 7 788 9445.