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Response to the Secretary of State’s speech on patient safety

21 June 2013

Responding to today's speech by the Secretary of State for Health on patient safety, Professor Norman Williams, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, said:

‘We are clear: any preventable harm to patients is unacceptable. However rare these incidents are, never should mean never and avoiding such errors should be the priority of every surgeon. The RCS, alongside NHS England, is currently running a ‘never events’ in surgery survey to find out what can be done better and to help us put an end to such errors.

The return to having the name of the responsible doctor and responsible nurse above every bed is welcomed – it is only right and proper that every patient knows who is accountable for their care. The surgeon is the advocate for the patient and this relationship is built on trust. We must do all we can to continue to deserve this trust by ensuring any problems are raised and addressed early. The surgeon-patient relationship will be further strengthened by the publication of information on the outcomes of surgery. This has been shown to not only improve surgical standards but to enable patients to have more informed conversations with their surgeon.’

You can take the Never Events Survey here.

Notes to Editor:

The Royal College of Surgeons of England is committed to enabling surgeons to achieve and maintain the highest standards of surgical practice and patient care. Registered charity number: 212808. For more information please visit

For more information, please contact the RCS press office on 020 7869 6047/ 6052 Out-of hours: 07966 486 832