A Bill to fully establish the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) as an arm’s-length body has been one of 26 proposed bills announced in the Queen’s speech at the State Opening of Parliament.

The Queen announced: “New laws will be taken forward to help implement the National Health Service’s long-term plan in England and to establish an independent body to investigate serious healthcare incidents.”

Since HSIB started carrying out independent patient safety investigations in April 2017, we’ve been funded by the Department of Health & Social Care and hosted by NHS England and NHS Improvement.

Keith Conradi, HSIB Chief Investigator, said: “This announcement marks the start of a significant change to our organisation that will result in us becoming an independent statutory body with significant legal powers.

“The next step will be the formal introduction of the Bill to Parliament, followed by debates in the House of Commons and the House of Lords until an agreement is made on the final wording, with Royal Assent likely sometime next summer.

Main elements of the Bill

The main elements of the Bill are:

  • Establishing the Health Service Safety Investigations Body as a new Executive Non-Departmental Public Body, with powers to conduct investigations into incidents that occur during the provision of NHS services and have, or may have, implications for the safety of patients.
  • Prohibiting the disclosure of information held by the investigations body, except in limited circumstances. This will allow participants to be candid in the information they provide and ensure thorough investigations.
  • Improving the quality and effectiveness of local investigations by developing standards and providing advice, guidance and training to organisations.
  • Amending the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, giving English NHS bodies the power to appoint medical examiners and placing a duty on the Secretary of State to ensure that enough medical examiners are appointed in England.

Full details of the proposed Bill are available on the Department of Health and Social Care website.