Published: 08/12/2005 Volume 115 No. 5985 Page 11

Doctors have been accused of ‘arrogance’ and branded ‘risk-takers’ by Healthcare Commission chair Professor Sir Ian Kennedy. He has called for a new breed of healthcare professionals to come through the ranks.

Sir Ian said future doctors and nurses needed to be educated and trained to put patient safety at the centre of everything they do.

He told delegates at last week’s Patient Safety Summit that trainees should not be brought up as ‘idealists’ and educated to believe that patient safety was not a problem in a world where ‘poor leadership, poor systems, poor teamwork, poor equipment, poor working conditions, poor morale, a culture of blame will continue to exist’.

‘We need to look for the attitudes, attributes and skills which will foster safety, ’ he explained. This did not mean discouraging people from taking risks, but ‘risks with the patient, not at the expense of the patient.’ Sir Ian said people had to learn to work in teams, ‘embrace honesty’, share their ‘frailties and weaknesses’ with others and be prepared to learn from their mistakes.

‘That is very different from the kind of person that historically has been selected to pursue healthcare as a profession - particularly amongst doctors - the non-team player, the risk-taker, to a degree the arrogant person. Those are not the skills and attributes we are looking for.’ Sir Ian added that organisations needed to provide regulators like the Healthcare Commission with evidence that training and education on patient safety was improving the quality of care.

‘That is partly the job of those who educate and It is then something that I, as a regulator, can get a grip of.

‘I can say: ‘You as individuals and you as organisations have to meet certain standards and I am interested in monitoring and surveying the data as to whether of not you are meeting those standards about commitment to safety’.’ The commission is working on a developmental standard on patient safety with the National Patient Safety Agency which could be introduced for the 2006-07 annual health check.