Cumberlege inquiry: We must not allow this seminal report to gather dust on a shelf, Jeremy Hunt says

Shaun Lintern
·2-min read
Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt is bidding to become chair of the House of Commons health select committee: EPA
Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt is bidding to become chair of the House of Commons health select committee: EPA

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has warned ministers not to let the Cumberlege review “gather dust on a shelf”.

The chair of the Commons Health and Social Care Committee told The Independent it was vital action was taken to implement the recommendations.

Mr Hunt, who made patient safety a key focus of his tenure as health secretary, backed the idea of an independent patient safety commissioner that would be outside the NHS and have powers to advocate for patient issues.

Mr Hunt said: “This report should be a powerful wake-up call that our healthcare system is still too closed, defensive and focused on blame rather than learning lessons.

“It’s truly harrowing to hear of all the women and families who live with permanent anguish because of these medicines and devices, and it has clearly taken too long for their voices to be heard.”

Mr Hunt, who also launched his own charity called Patient Safety Watch after leaving frontline politics last year, set up the Cumberlege inquiry in February 2018 after years of campaigning by families and victims of sodium valproate, vaginal mesh and Primodos.

There have been repeated calls for a public inquiry and answers as to why so many women and children were allowed to be harmed and their concerns dismissed.

Mr Hunt said: “The recommendations are excellent and I particularly support the call for an independent patient safety commissioner. We have many quangos in healthcare but none who can truly claim to give individual patients a voice when things go wrong with medicines or devices.

“There is literally nothing more tragic than a death or disability that didn’t need to happen, so this is an urgent reform that can ensure lessons are learnt quickly and other families are spared similar heartache.

“The NHS is one of the safest health systems in the world, and we’re all rightly in awe of our frontline heroes. But in healthcare getting it right ‘most’ times isn’t good enough because the exceptions wreak lifelong devastation on families.

“So we must not allow this seminal report to gather dust on a shelf: lessons must be learnt once and for all.”

Read more

Patients at risk from unsafe medicines and implants, inquiry reveals

‘It felt like they washed their hands of me’

In the shadow of thalidomide, lessons still haven’t been learnt