Century-old ‘culture of blame’ is still prominent today, say researchers

Posted by ap507 at Jun 05, 2015 10:55 AM |
University of Leicester event to explore how patient safety and medical negligence have a forgotten historical legacy that can inform policy-makers today


Issued by the University of Leicester Press Office on 5 June 2015


Contact pressoffice@le.ac.uk to request images.

  • Patient safety, whistleblowing and public enquiry have a long historical legacy with mixed results
  • Lessons from the past can inform current medical practice
  • Professionals highlight urgent need to maintain a safe environment for patients

Representatives from over 20 different healthcare organisations will be convening at the University of Leicester on 11 June to discuss how old patterns of patient safety and historical complaints against doctors are still being replicated in the modern welfare system – and what lessons can be learned by looking to our medical past.

The workshop, ‘Patient Safety: Looking Back, Going Forward’, is supported by the Wellcome Trust and CPD accredited by the Federation of Royal Colleges of Physicians. It will be attended by a number of prominent medical professionals, healthcare managers and patient groups who are confronted by the challenges of managing patient safety on a daily basis.

A new book, ‘Medical Negligence in Victorian Britain: the Crisis of Care under the English Poor Law’, by Dr Kim Price from the University of Leicester’s Centre for Medical Humanities, who is co-organising the event with Dr Paul Lazarus, will also be launched on the day, which examines charges of neglect against doctors in the nineteenth century and links that past culture of blame to today’s healthcare environment.

The General Medical Council (GMC) has launched a radical consultation this year, which will place patient safety at the heart of medical education and training across the UK.

“However, historically patient safety remains a neglected area of research in the medical humanities, which has created a policy vacuum, uninformed by past experiences,” said Dr Price. “This vacuum is one that researchers suggest urgently needs to be filled by bringing together professionals to speak about how to maintain a safe environment for patients and avoid repeating past mistakes in healthcare.”

During the workshop a carefully selected list of expert delegates will share the latest historical research to stimulate new conversations about how the lessons of the past can inform current practice.

In addition, these themes will be tied together with two workshops that will draw from history, humanities and medical education to inform current ideas in patient safety.

‘Medical Negligence in Victorian Britain: the Crisis of Care under the English Poor Law’ by Dr Kim Price, published through Bloomsbury, reveals a ‘culture of blame’ under the new poor law that predates our present-day litigation crises by 150 years.

Dr Price added: “The new poor law faced similar dilemmas to today’s NHS in the division and allocation of resources. It experienced devastating cuts to its budget and restrictive measures in policy that inhibited its ability to provide safe care. Yet, similar to the Francis Report of 2013, the Victorians held big public enquiries into standards of care which caused public outcry for improvement.

“How and why those reforms did not materialise has critical meaning for us today. The NHS is being asked to manage tighter budgets at the same time as providing safer care than ever before. The poor law sacrificed safety in the pursuit of production goals under severe financial pressures from the Treasury. How will the NHS deal with similar pressures to its healthcare funding and its provision of safe care?”

The workshop, ‘Patient Safety: Looking Back, Going Forward’, will take place at College Court, the University’s Conference Centre and Hotel, between 9:00am – 5:00pm on 11 June.

More information about ‘Medical Negligence in Victorian Britain: the Crisis of Care under the English Poor Law’ can be found at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/medical-negligence-in-victorian-britain-9781441125460/


Notes to Editors:

For more information please contact Dr Kim Price on kp178@le.ac.uk

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