MPS: Cultural change key to open, learning healthcare environment in Scotland

The Medical Protection Society (MPS)calls for an environment of understanding in healthcare

We must strive for cultural change in healthcare where staff are trained and supported to be open about mistakes, learn from them and where senior clinicians lead by example – the Medical Protection Society (MPS) told the Scottish Parliament Health & Sport Committee.

The committee convened to establish whether NHS Scotland’s policies and systems are delivering good governance and improvement – including policies around reporting errors, and learning from complaints and adverse incidents.

MPS, a not for profit organisation supporting 300,000 healthcare professionals worldwide, assists its members with complaints following adverse incidents, and works to prevent adverse incidents occurring through education and risk management. MPS has also long advised its members that an apology is not an admission of guilt; rather it is an acknowledgment that something has gone wrong and a way of expressing empathy.

But MPS said healthcare professionals remain fearful of blame or personal recrimination, and a shift in culture is needed to bring about an open, learning environment in Scotland.

MPS’s Medicolegal Adviser, Dr Gordon McDavid, who represented MPS and its members at the Committee evidence session, commented: “MPS has always been of the view that while you can mandate disclosure through legislation, and stop apologies being used as evidence of liability, this in itself does not bring about real behavioural change.

“Ultimately, we believe that cultural change within healthcare is needed. A culture where the norm is for doctors to feel able and confident to admit errors, apologise and learn from mistakes.

“We need an environment where staff are trained and supported to do this, and where senior clinicians lead by example.

“MPS welcomes wider debate on how such an environment could be best achieved and we are pleased the Scottish Parliament Health & Sport Committee is driving this forward. We stand ready to play our part.”

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