Further to the Newsnight and other media coverage in December 2022, relating to alleged concerns regarding patient safety, leadership, culture and governance, in partnership with University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB), NHS Birmingham and Solihull (ICB) has agreed three independent reviews.
This paper summarises the progress to date.
The BSOL ICS Chief Executive presented the report, which updated Members on the three independent reviews that had been launched, further to Newsnight and other media coverage in December 2022, relating to alleged concerns regarding patient safety, leadership, culture and governance. The following points were raised:
· BSOL ICS had been provided a draft of the Patient Safety Review, which had been completed by the independent clinician Professor Bewick. The Review was now going through a factual accuracy check that BSOL ICS had to undertake, as part of due process.
· All three of the reviewers were clear that they would be happy for their families to use services at UHB. This had also been shared with the Cross-party Reference Group, which included Cllr K Grinsell, as Cabinet Member for Partnerships and Wellbeing and Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board.
· The Culture and Well-led reviews were also being undertaken – Professor Bewick had now been commissioned to oversee these reviews as well and to return in June on progress on his first quality report following the initial Newsnight allegations.
· The Rt Hon Preet Gill MP had also agreed to continue chairing the reference group until the conclusion of these reviews in the summer.
Members raised the following queries:
· A Member raised how, in the media, it had been reported the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) had issued an ‘Emerging Concerns Protocol’ to NHS England in regards to UHB and queried this.
· The BSOL Chief Executive explained this related to the management of complaints and confirmed UHB had responded to this protocol appropriately. It was explained that Professor Bewick would take into account this matter, as part of his oversight of the three reviews being undertaken.
· In response to a Member query, the BSOL Chief Executive confirmed Professor Bewick had not identified any red flags in regards to safety.
· A Member requested the estimate timescale on when the full findings of the Patient Safety Review could be shared.
· The BSOL Chief Executive explained timelines had been agreed and it should be possible for this Review to be shared by 9th March
· A Member queried the oversight arrangements in regards to the actions arising from the first review, to ensure ongoing delivery.
· The BSOL Chief Executive confirmed the Cross party Reference Group would continue to review this work. Membership of this Group included Healthwatch, Professional representatives, Union representatives, MPs and Health and Wellbeing Board chairs. A Joint BSOL and NHS E Oversight Group had also been established, to review the delivery of actions in detail. Professor Bewick would also return in June to report on progress. The BSOL Chief Executive also emphasised how a range of measures were being delivered now, as the three reviews were being undertaken, including engaging with staff.
· Another Member also raised the media coverage regarding the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) and UHB. They expressed concern on the Committee finding out about this via the media.
· The BSOL ICS Chief Executive explained the process, whereby the PHSO could raise issues via the NHS Trust as well as via NHS England. He explained how, during this process, UHB were addressing the issues being raised, which related to the management of and learning from complaints. It was also confirmed the issues had now been addressed. It was explained a press statement on this matter had been issued by NHS England and this could be shared with the Committee.
· A Member raised the Cross party Reference Group and queried whether they were satisfied with the Terms of Reference, as well as the independence, of the Patient Safety Review. It was also queried whether the minutes of this Groups meetings could be shared.
· The BSOL Chief Executive explained how the first Review’s ToR had been further refined at this Groups initial meeting – it was confirmed the updated ToR could be shared. He also detailed how he would check whether the minutes of these meetings could be shared.
· The Chief Executive Officer of Healthwatch explained how the ToR for the Cross party Reference Group itself had been upgraded following its initial meeting. The Group had also agreed to undertake increase communications, including of its membership, as well as its roles and functions. From an independence point of view, it had been welcomed that Professor Bewick would be overseeing all three reviews.
· The Chief Executive Officer of Healthwatch queried the communications plan that was being developed, to support the publication of the Patient Safety Review.
· The BSOL Chief Executive confirmed this communications plan could be shared. He also explained he would clarify whether an embargoed copy of the Patient Safety Review findings could be shared, the day before planned publication on 9th March. It detailed how this would be subject to the completion of the factual accuracy checks and due process.
· Following a query from a Member, the BSOL Chief Executive confirmed that the four ground rules, identified by Healthwatch Birmingham and Healthwatch Solihull, in their letter dated 21st December, would be adhered to for all the 3 reviews being undertaken.
· Following requests from Members, the BSOL ICS Chief Executive confirmed he would review how Members could be notified and kept informed of future major media reporting. He emphasised the different issues that had to be taken into account, including maintaining patient confidentiality. It was also recognised this was dependent upon BSOL ICS and UHB being informed of the media reporting in advance.
The Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee:
(i) Noted the update on the Independent Reviews at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
(ii) Agreed to receive further reporting on the Independent Reviews at the next JHOSC meeting on 13th March 2023.