Friday, 16 March 2012

My MP's reply to my letter on the publication of the NHS Risk Register

Here's how John Penrose replied to my letter requesting the publication of the NHS Risk Register.The second link he refers to doesn't work! From personal experience with privatisation at North Somerset Council, the whole process involves huge secrecy, so much so that councillors themselves aren't given enough information to know what they're voting for, and of course exactly the same is happening with the Health and Social Care Bill.

"Thank you for contacting me about the Department of Health’s risk register. I understand your concerns about this, although having done a little digging about the issue, it looks as if there’s been a little bit of confusion about what we’re talking about here.

Risk assessment are usually produced to evaluate and manage commercial and contractual risks, as well as potential risks for patients’ health (ie how would they handle a terrorist attack, or an IT contractor which didn’t deliver a new system on time?). They are principally used as tools for planning and prevention, ie the risks will not in most cases materialise, either because they’re pretty unlikely or because the health authorities will have anticipated them and put measures in place to make sure they’re avoided. For that reason, they’ve never previously been made public under any previous Government – in fact the last Labour Government explicitly refused to publish them for precisely this reason, which is why it’s a bit rich for them suddenly to start campaigning for publication now(!).

That said, actual or real risks such as (for example) known side effects of particular drugs which hit some but not all patients, or the relative risks of complications from caesarean births rather than natural ones, are – rightly – routinely published by the Health Department. I’m also happy to confirm that the risk assessments of the Government’s health reforms (which is what this is really about, of course), are already available on the Department of Health’s website ( by searching for ‘Health and Social Care Bill: combined impact assessments.’ Other examples of the other management risk assessments you mention in your email are also already available online, for example at %20Board%20CRAF%20red%20risks%20only%20as%20of%2020111006.pdf

Yours sincerely,

John Penrose
MP for Weston-super-Mare"

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