There’s no doubt that for the great majority of people who choose to work in healthcare, the great driving force is a desire to be a force for good.  Hardly anyone sets out to make mistakes or plans to do harm.  And yet, every year there are serious incidents in patient safety and some of these incidents, sadly result in death.  Some of these deaths are unavoidable, some are not.

While no-one can bring back greatly loved family members, how the healthcare provider works with the family after a death can make an enormous difference to the way the death impacts on them.  All too often families are not given a point of contact, aren’t told what’s happening or what is likely to happen next.   Sometimes they’re not spoken to at all.  We hear stories from families of investigations which they weren’t part of.  Where they weren’t spoken to or asked to contribute evidence. Sometimes the investigations were published without them ever having sight of the documents.  All of these things create further trauma for a family and lead to a situation where the family becomes highly critical of the provider. Sometimes they feel the only way to get to the truth is via litigation.  In short, no-one wins and everyone loses.

Time and again, what we hear from patients and families is that above all, what they most want is to know that whatever has happened to them and to their family, will not happen again to others. To know that lessons will be identified, learned and the same mistakes not made again so no other family will be harmed in the same way.

It’s almost strange now to think it was not very long ago that the police didn’t have Family Liaison Officers.  They only became the norm after the McPherson report following Stephen Lawrence’s tragic death.  Now we accept that police FLOs are part and parcel of modern policing.  The NHS is much slower to catch up with this idea of Family Liaison Officers embedded into every Trust and every investigation.  There are a few Trusts now which have FLOs, but their roles vary enormously from Trust to Trust.  In many cases Trusts still rely on investigations being organised by staff on top of their normal workload which can result in investigation staff feeling overwhelmed and unsupported.  Families caused further harm and distress.

We believe that a well-trained and highly experienced Family Liaison Officer team can make a difference to both the success of an investigation and the support and well-being of patients and families.  Making Families Count would like to see more NHS FLO teams all over the country and more training for the ones already in place, as well as more appreciation of what this role can bring.

So it’s no surprise that for our first national conference on Thursday 21 May we have chosen the theme of “Family Liaison Officers – the future of family support after NHS incidents?” and tickets for the conference are now on sale.

You can read more information about the conference on a new page on the MFC website: https://www.makingfamiliescount.org.uk/familysupportafternhsincidents/.

You can access the Eventbrite ticketing site directly via this link to the Eventbrite ticketing page: http://bit.ly/2R5CIJy and you can also access the ticketing page from the Home page of the Making Families Count website: https://www.makingfamiliescount.org.uk/

We are busy spreading the word about our conference and we’re happy to see that tickets are already selling.  We want to sell this conference out and help to push further forward with the embedding of NHS Family Liaison Officers.  We want to raise this subject higher on the NHS agenda and support every healthcare worker who is interested in the future of Family Liaison in family support.