Skip to main content

Javid hires new patient safety watchdog

Published on: 20 Jun 2022

The government has lined up a former national guardian for the NHS as the country’s first patient safety commissioner.

Henrietta Hughes, who stepped down last year after five years in the role, has been named as “preferred candidate” following an open recruitment process.

HSJ reported January that ministers were seeking someone who could “set an example of integrity and ethical leadership”.

Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid today invited the Commons health and social care committee to hold a pre-appointment scrutiny hearing with her. The committee will set out its views on her suitability for the role, then Mr Javid will make a final decision on the appointment.

Dr Hughes was a local medical director at NHS England before being appointed national guardian for the NHS in July 2016.

She is a practicing GP with a background in women’s health, and continued her clinical role in London alongside her national guardian responsibilities which included helping support the covid vaccination rollout.

The role of the national guardian was set up in 2016 following Sir Robert Francis’ review into whistleblowing in the English NHS.

Baroness Julia Cumberledge, who called for the appointment of an independent patient safety commissioner in her First Do No Harm review, published in 2020, said she was “very pleased” with the appointment.

She added: “I look forward to supporting and working closely with Dr Henrietta Hughes to improve patient safety and prevent avoidable harm.

“I know from the thousands of people we listened to in our review just how devastating the effects can be when things go wrong and the healthcare system fails to listen or learn.”