Independent investigation of historic patient safety incidents at Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust

Department of Health and Social Care written statement – made on 6th June 2019.

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Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

The report of an independent review conducted by Dr Bill Kirkup into the widespread failings by Liverpool Community Health Trust was published on 8 February 2018. The report described how over-ambitious cost improvement programmes as part of a bid for foundation trust status placed patient safety at risk, leading to serious lapses in care and widespread harm to patients. A culture of bullying meant that staff were afraid to speak up and safety incidents were ignored or went unrecognised.

Today, I am informing the House that NHS England and NHS Improvement will establish an independent investigation of previous serious incidents at Liverpool Community Health. This second review will again be led by Dr Bill Kirkup supported by an independent expert oversight panel and will be conducted over three stages. Stages 1 and 2 will identify individual serious patient safety incidents that had not been reported or adequately investigated by Liverpool Community Health and undertake a series of historic, mortality reviews. Stage 3 will fully investigate those individual serious patient safety incidents identified from the previous stages to determine the scale of deaths and patient harm and identify local and national learning.

The independent investigation will also advise regulators where, in the opinion of the panel, the systems, processes and senior leadership within the former Liverpool Health Community Trust may have adversely contributed to the safe delivery of patient care. It will identify any themes, trends or issues that may require further investigation.

This will not be a re-run of the previous independent review, but it will draw upon its findings as well as the new evidence identified by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust in its response to the recommendations of the original report. The independent investigation will engage with families of former patients and affected staff to understand their concerns to inform the work of Stage 3.

Local stakeholders will be briefed and the investigation will publish its terms of reference once these have been finalised with the Chair.

NHS England and NHS Improvement expect work on Stages 1 and 2 will commence immediately and the independent investigation will report towards the end of 2020.

I am confident that Dr Bill Kirkup will oversee a thorough and independent investigation of these outstanding issues and deliver his recommendations swiftly.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1564