In April 2014, the Department of Health published a consultation seeking views on how the regulations relating to the new criminal offence for supplying false or misleading information should be applied in England.
The introduction of the offence forms part of the government’s response to the findings of the Mid Staffordshire Public Inquiry. The focus of the offence is on 'the most serious cases, where patient lives have been, or may be, put at risk' by such actions.
The Health Foundation’s response
In its response, the Health Foundation set out its overall view that it is appropriate for organisations, and those senior leaders within them, to be subject to effective sanctions if they are found to have provided false or misleading information in response to statutory or other legal obligations. In the response we make several recommendations:
- The Department of Health needs to ensure that it is clear about the scale of the problem it is seeking to solve with the regulations.
- The Department to provide further clarification as to what is really meant by providing 'misleading' information.
- We suggest that the Department also tests how the regulations would have theoretically applied in other situations, as well as Mid Staffordshire.
The Health Foundation considers that there is a wider problem of NHS trust boards fully understanding the risks and safety concerns that are present in their organisations, particularly those that relate to real-time and anticipated problems.