Before I begin my speech, I draw the House’s attention to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.
Doctors become doctors to help make people better. Patient safety and improving patient care are therefore at the forefront of every doctor’s practice. Indeed, when I went for my consultant interview, I was asked to give a presentation on how I would demonstrate to the trust board that paediatric services in that hospital were safe, and my answer, of course, was, “How safe?” As safe as going to a football match? As safe as travelling on the tube? As safe as flying in an aeroplane? Those activities are safe, but, like patient care, nothing is ever 100% safe. We need to ensure that care is as safe as it possibly can be, and that there are processes in place to learn from mistakes. No party has a monopoly on wanting to make the NHS as good as it can be, and all of us know that the increasing demand and complexity would make healthcare a challenge for any Government.
During my career, there have been significant improvements in patient safety, the most important of which is probably the establishment in 2009 of the Care Quality Commission, with its Ofsted-like reports. By 2017, it had inspected every trust, primary care and adult social care provider, and it continues to ensure they are meeting the highest standards. We now also have the regular revalidation of professionals, reflective practice and case reviews, as well as child death overview panels, which review in detail all unexpected child deaths. New maternity systems have been developed that have resulted in clear progress, as seen in the 20% fall in the stillbirth and neonatal mortality rate in England between 2003 and 2013.