A major review of the NHS system in England recommends that patient care and safety should become the top priority.

Barack Obama’s former health advisor compiled the report, which encourages a “wide systematic change” in the health system.

In the 45-page report, Professor Don Berwick addresses the need to embrace an ethic of learning to “continually and forever reduce patient harm.” He also argues that in the case of error, “NHS staff are not to blame”, adding that in the vast majority of cases it is the systems, procedures, conditions, environment and constraints that staff face which have lead to patient safety problems.

The Berwick report supports criminal sanctions in extreme cases but states that these should be rare. It advises that staff of the NHS need career-long help to ensure they provide modern methods of quality control, improvement and planning.

Transparency should be both expected and insisted upon

Professor Berwick also states that transparency should be both expected and insisted upon, and all organisations should consider patient and carer voice as essential in monitoring safety and quality of care.

Linda Millband, senior medical negligence solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “The Berwick report reflects the true potential of our National Health Service, and we welcome Professor Berwick's ten recommendations, which aim to place the quality of patient care above all else.

“At Thompsons Solicitors, we have represented thousands of clients who have suffered terrible injuries because of failings in patient care.

“Patients have the right to expect that their care is the top priority at all levels within the NHS, and we hope that this report will result in action being taken to improve patient safety."