All the documentation has now been sent on to the relevant GP surgery, where it is possible to do so, following an initial clinical assessment of where any patient risk might lie. Some 200,000 pieces were temporary residence forms, and a further 500,000 pieces were assessed as low risk. A first triage identified a further 2,500 items that had potential risk of harm and needed further investigation, but follow-up by local GPs has already identified nearly 2,000 of those as having “no patient harm”. The remainder are still being assessed, but so far no patient harm has been identified.
As well as patient safety, transparency with both the public and this House has been my priority. I was advised by officials not to make the issue public last March until an assessment of the risks to patient safety had been completed and all relevant GP surgeries informed. I accepted that advice, for the very simple reason that publicising the issue could have meant GP surgeries being inundated with inquiries from worried patients, which would have prevented them from doing the most important work—namely, investigating the named patients who were potentially at risk.
For the same reasons, and in good faith, a proactive statement about what had happened was again not recommended by my Department in July. However, on balance I decided it was important for the House to know what had happened before we broke for recess, so I did not follow that advice and placed a written statement before the House on