New Qualification for Investigating Serious Incidents in Health Care

serious-incidents-blog“Evidence from our site visits and provider information request showed that staff do not always receive specialised training and support in conducting an investigation. Previous reports, including the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s review of the quality of NHS complaints investigations, have equally highlighted the lack of a national, accredited training programme to support local investigators in the NHS. This means that, even within the same services, there is not a consistent approach.”
Learning, candour and accountability – A review of the way NHS trusts review and investigate the deaths of patients in England (CQC December 2016)

A national review by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has found that the NHS is missing opportunities to learn from patient deaths and that specialised training and support is not universally provided to staff completing investigations.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and SFJ Awards have recently completed the development of a new regulated qualification to address this need.  It is aimed at staff who are involved in investigating serious incidents in healthcare.  This collaborative development has also involved input from a range of providers, including; Leeds Community Healthcare trust, Hull & East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust.

Serious incidents are where the potential for learning is so great, or the consequences to patients, families and carers, staff or organisations are so significant, that they warrant using additional resources for a comprehensive response.

The work has produced a qualification that covers the following subject areas:

  • the principles of investigating serious incidents
  • the initial review of an incident
  • investigating a serious incident
  • investigative questioning and interviews
  • completing an investigation

The subject areas are underpinned by a training programme that is intended to bring consistency to investigative practices.

As an Awarding Organisation, SFJ Awards will offer the qualification nationally via quality assured centres.  As the qualification is regulated by Ofqual, a robust approach to assessment and implementation is required to ensure the qualification is of a suitable high quality.  Working with the health sector (and as part of the Skills for Health group) SFJ Awards are able to provide a cost effective offer to the health sector that will more than compete with private sector providers.

Candidates will need to provide evidence of their knowledge and skills for the qualification via multiple choice tests (carried out during the training) and reflective practice (during a real investigation).  In this way the assessment is integrated with the training programme itself.  The Awarding Organisation stipulates that the qualification must be assessed by assessors with subject expertise, and to maintain quality, the qualification will only be available via approved centres.

For further information contact SFJ Awards at