The Care Quality Commission has been asked to consider taking on the patient safety role from NHS England, HSJ has learned.
An internal review of NHS England’s functions, initiated by chief executive Simon Stevens when he arrived in April, has concluded that the organisation is not best placed to provide national leadership on patient safety.
HSJ understands preliminary discussions have taken place between the two national bodies about transferring the patient safety directorate to the CQC.
The directorate was created to receive the functions of the National Patient Safety Agency when it was abolished in 2012.
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Section 13 of the Health Act gave NHS England responsibility for the gathering and dissemination of information in relation to patient safety. However, it also provides that the body can delegate the functions to other organisations.
In his report into care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust, Robert Francis QC recommended that the government consider transferring the functions of the NPSA to the CQC, rather than to NHS England. It oversees the National Reporting and Learning System, and is currently leading on the roll out of a raft of patient safety initiatives that were announced by the health secretary Jeremy Hunt earlier this year.
At a commons health committee hearing last year, CQC chair David Prior told MPs the regulator felt patient safety “ought to be with us, not NHS England”.
Speaking to HSJ last week, Mr Prior said the regulator’s position was still the same, and confirmed early discussions had taken place.
He said: “It’s very much as we said at the select committee: that particular function ought to be with the CQC.”
Further discussions are due to take place this week to consider whether the directorate, which is headed up by chief nursing officer Jane Cummings, will be transferred wholesale.
Meanwhile, HSJ understands that the CQC will not be responsible for the patient safety campaign announced by health secretary Jeremy Hunt earlier this year, even if it takes on the patient safety role.
Sign up to Safety, which is due to be officially launched next week, will call on trusts to halve avoidable harm over the next three years.
HSJ understands Suzette Woodward, former director of patient safety at the National Patient Safety Agency and now a director at the NHS Litigation Authority, is likely to play a leading role as is Salford Royal Foundation Trust chief executive Sir David Dalton.