The government should be wary of MPs’ calls for thorough investigation of all serious safety incidents, the National Patient Safety Agency has said.

The Commons health select committee’s report on patient safety said the NPSA “amasses a good deal of summary data of doubtful usefulness” about minor incidents but does not look in enough detail at the causes of serious incidents.

It said the government should consider setting up an equivalent to the Department for Transport’s air accident investigation branch to look at causes of serious incidents such as those where patients have died.

However, NPSA director of patient safety Suzette Woodward, also director of implementation of the Patient Safety First campaign, told HSJ such investigations would be useful in some cases, but could often be costly and unhelpful. She said they should happen in “specific and clear areas”.

Health Foundation chief executive Stephen Thornton agreed with the committee’s finding that safety was often not a high enough priority.

He said: “We have not yet got people to have a sense of outrage when those things do happen.”

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