The introduction of mandatory safety breach reporting has superficial voter appeal, but problems lurk beneath.

Reporting does not raise patient safety standards. Changing culture does. The mood music behind the government’s move sounds punitive and imposing, precisely the sort of environment which stifles openness and improvement. It can only increase the risk of managers and staff being pilloried.

The government sees mandatory reporting as an electorally appealing response to recent scandals at Colchester and Basildon and Thurrock foundation trusts. As polling day nears, interest in long term, sustainable progress in healthcare is giving way to eyecatching initiatives intended to wrest political momentum from the Conservatives. NHS staff risk getting caught in the crossfire.

The Care Quality Commission has promised to be sensitive in applying sanctions resulting from the new regime, but in the current climate, where politicians are lining up to bash public sector managers on everything from performance to pay, don’t bet there will be space for such common sense. Sticking public sector heads on poles is good for votes.

Populist blame culture stifles openness