Health secretary Steve Barclay has appointed Dr Henrietta Hughes as the first patient safety commissioner for England, following the recommendation of Baroness Cumberlege’s review into patient safety.

The commissioner will seek to improve the safety of medicines and medical devices, and how the healthcare system listens to patients.

Dr Hughes will be an independent point of contact for patients, giving a voice to their concerns, and will help the NHS and government better understand what they can do to put patients first, promote the safety of patients, and the importance of the views of patients and other members of the public.

Formerly the National Guardian for the NHS, where she encouraged staff to speak up and supported whistle-blowers, Dr Hughes will continue to practise as a GP and chair of Childhood First charity.

The First Do No Harm report, led by Baroness Cumberlege and published in 2020, explored issues relating to the use of Primodos, sodium valproate and pelvic mesh, and was commissioned because those affected did not feel listened to, or their concerns acknowledged.

It highlighted the need to better protect and listen to patients and recommended the creation of an independent patient safety commissioner.

Barclay said: ‘It is essential that we put patient safety first and continue to listen to and champion patients’ voices. Dr Henrietta Hughes brings a wealth of experience with her as the first ever patient safety commissioner to improve the safety of medicines and medical devices and her work will help support NHS staff as we work hard to beat the Covid backlogs.’

Dr Hughes added: ‘I am humbled and honoured to be appointed as the first patient safety commissioner… Patients’ voices need to be at the heart of the design and delivery of healthcare. I would like to pay tribute to the incredible courage, persistence and compassion of all those who gave evidence to the report, their families and everyone who continues to campaign tirelessly for safer treatments.

‘I will work collaboratively with patients, the healthcare system and others so that all patients receive the information they need, all patients’ voices are heard and the system responds quickly to keep people safe.’