2020: The Cumberlege Review

  • 18th December 2020

We’ve come to the final instalment of our 2020 blog series, where we’ve reflected on key patient safety issues we’ve seen this year and our work in those areas. First, our Chief Executive, Helen Hughes, introduced the series, giving an overview of the year. We then looked at:

Lastly, we turn our attention to one of the most significant reports we’ve responded to this year, First Do No Harm – also known as the Cumberlege Review – by the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review.

As an additional option to the text below, you might like to watch the following short video from Helen Hughes, Patient Safety Learning's Chief Executive.

Using our voice to help create awareness and change

Part of how we work towards our goals at Patient Safety Learning is by responding to official reports, using our independent voice for patient safety to help raise awareness of key issues and make the case for change.

In July, we set out our analysis of the Cumberlege Review, a week after it was first published. We considered the review’s findings and highlighted the key patient safety themes running throughout, many of which were consistent with those found in other patient safety scandals in the last 20 years. We looked at what needs to change to prevent these issues from recurring and made the case that patients should not be asked to ‘join the dots’ for patient safety, concluding that it is “the responsibility of healthcare leaders who must seize this opportunity to drive the changes needed for safer care”.

We also published two shorter blogs on our patient safety platform, the hub, looking in more detail at the patient safety issues around informed consent and patient complaints, highlighted by the review.

In August, Helen Hughes commented on the Cumberlege Review as part of our ‘2-minute Tuesdays’ series. She said that it identifies the scale and severity of harm to thousands of women and shows patient safety themes going back decades, including those found in the Paterson Report, “another report that is yet to be responded to by the Government”. Helen highlighted that the report not only highlights patient safety issues but also:

  • “equality issues” because women claimed the issues they raised were dismissed as ‘women’s issues’
  • “issues of failed leadership” with Baroness Cumberlege commenting that the healthcare system, including the NHS, private providers, regulators and professional bodies, pharmaceutical and device manufacturers, and policymakers, are “disjoined, siloed, unresponsive and defensive”.

Taking steps to ensure action is taken

Like many others, we want to see a government response to this report, resulting in actions that will help to create a future where all patients receive safe healthcare. To help make this happen, we have been widely sharing our insights on implications for patient safety raised by this report and are seeking to work with others to ensure that its recommendations are kept on the Government’s agenda.

Looking forward

We will continue to use the hub to expose health inequalities, provide a public platform to those who have been harmed or dismissed and encourage people to speak up. We will use what we learn to inform the concerns we voice and the actions we take.

Blog image cumberlege


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