Ben Bradshaw

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My Question on Southern Health Trust

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): I thank the Secretary of State for his statement and congratulate NHS England on what sounds like a very thorough report. I remind him that challenging the methodology was exactly the same first line of defence used by the now disgraced management at Mid Staffs hospital. Will he answer the specific question my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham East (Heidi Alexander) asked as to when Ministers first knew about problems in the trust, which we hear go back to 2011, and what action they took as a result?

Mr Hunt: I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his comments. I hope I did address that by saying that the first time was when we realised there were issues around the tragic death of Connor Sparrowhawk. That is what started the process and led to the independent investigation. Because NHS England wanted it to be very thorough, that investigation went right back to 2011 and up to 2015. It looked at all unexpected deaths in that period, and at the reporting culture and lessons that had or had not been learned as a result. A lot of action has been taken. I can also reassure the right hon. Gentleman that during that period we have been implementing the recommendations of the Francis report, which has meant that throughout the NHS there is much greater focus on and transparency in patient safety.

It is important to give the NHS credit. During the past three years, we have actually seen a 25% increase in the number of reported incidents. I think people are treating this much more seriously than in the past, but there is much more to do.

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