Both national and maternity investigations are showing a high level of family engagement through an inclusive and innovative model that ensures families have a voice throughout investigations. 

In our maternity programme, launched in April 2018, 97% of families approached have agreed to be involved in the investigations.

What families say to us during investigations is crucial and is used as part of the evidence alongside any information we get from clinical staff involved.

Through the feedback process, a family member involved in one of our national investigations told us: [there is] “a great feeling that you’ve got a voice which is entirely down to the approach” and that the “process was so supportive”.

This approach to family engagement has been highlighted by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, the Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, in a speech he gave yesterday (Wednesday 6 February) at the Improving Patient Safety & Care 2019 conference.

Family inclusion

Families are invited to become involved at the very start of HSIB investigations.

Family can include partners, parents, siblings, children, guardians and others who had a direct and close relationship with the patient at the centre of our investigation.

We make sure that we support families continuously from the start of an investigation until the very end. At an early stage, we ensure that not just the needs of the investigation are met, but also the importance of considering the needs of the individuals involved. This may include signposting families to other agencies for medical, emotional or practical support.

Dedicated resource

Louise Pye, Head of Family Engagement, has spearheaded our work in this crucial area. As well as leading on our family engagement strategy, she is available day-to-day to advise our investigators.

Louise brings 30 years of experience of working as an officer in the police force, specialising in family liaison work. This included training, advising and supporting family liaison officers and working with bereaved families. 

Louise said: “We are with families every step of the way during investigations. We are totally transparent about the investigation process and make sure that families can make an informed choice about their involvement. During the investigation we constantly revisit to make sure the family are still getting the support they need.

“Our approach to family engagement is embedded in training for our investigators as soon as they join us. We’re currently working with Skills for Health to develop a framework of the competencies required by investigators to successfully engage with families, and we plan to develop an enhanced family engagement training programme based on this.”

Ongoing support 

After initial training, investigators are given comprehensive ongoing support through a clear framework to deliver an effective service to families. This includes practical tools like specially developed family information, family contact records and checklists.

For more detail about our approach and any other questions please email enquiries@hsib.org.uk.