As a result of the current coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) is changing the way it approaches maternity and national investigations to minimise the impact it has on trusts.

Maternity investigations

From today (6 April 2020) we will no longer routinely investigate maternity events involving cooled babies where there is no apparent neurological injury confirmed following therapy.

Despite the impact of the virus, however, it is important that we continue to investigate the most serious maternity cases. We are therefore asking trusts to continue referring all events to us that meet the criteria set out in the HSIB Maternity Directions 2018, in effect, carrying on business as usual. It is important that we maintain this mapping of the system not only to ensure safe care continues but also to review the effect Covid-19 is having on maternity services.

We have also enabled and supported many of our own staff to return to the frontline to help in the fight against Covid-19.

National reports

Every year we produce up to 30 national reports providing learning and safety recommendations to the healthcare system. To reduce the burden on healthcare colleagues who are dealing with the coronavirus we will pause the publication of our reports until further notice. However, if we are alerted to any serious patient safety concerns we will escalate accordingly.

Patient safety concerns

We will, of course, continue to accept and encourage referrals regarding patient safety concerns in the usual manner, including concerns regarding Covid-19. Please go to our referrals page. We will collate all referrals and review them against our national investigation criteria for potential future national investigations. It is likely that our response to referrals will be slower than usual due to the impact of the current pandemic. We aim to respond to each referral within four weeks regarding next steps. Referrals related to Covid-19 will be prioritised.

HSIB response to the coronavirus outbreak

We want to do our very best to help the NHS deal with the coronavirus outbreak and we recognise that frontline staff need to concentrate on combating the Covid-19 spread so we are supporting our clinical staff to get back to the frontline.

Keith Conradi, HSIB Chief Investigator, says: “We understand this will impact the services we can provide for some time, but given the urgency and scale of this public health emergency it is essential for us to help front line colleagues care for the people that need it most.

“HSIB have also developed a Rapid Response Team which is on standby to assist with any healthcare safety issues which arise during the coronavirus outbreak, and where our expertise could bring a positive patient safety outcome.”

If you are concerned about Covid-19

Go to NHS.UK/coronavirus for information about the virus and how to protect yourself.

Further information and guidance about coronavirus is available on the Public Health England website.