The House of Commons Health Committee is looking at whether the national reporting of patient safety incidents should be made mandatory, as part of its investigation into patient safety.

The present National Patient Safety Agency reporting system relies on trusts owning up to their mistakes through a voluntary system. But a recent Healthcare Commission report found that incident reporting within many trusts is inadequate.

Committee chair Kevin Barron told the BBC that making reporting mandatory is on the agenda. He said: “We are still taking evidence so I don’t want to say what should happen, but it is one of the things we are looking at.”

The NPSA has been collecting data, on a voluntary basis, since 2003. It has seen a significant increase in reporting, from 100 errors every three months to 250,000 errors. But the agency is still unable to compare trusts because of concerns about under reporting.

Earlier this year, the NPSA recently said that 32 of the 391 organisations in England and Wales did not submit any incidents or enough to be included in reports, making data unreliable.

A Department of Health spokesperson said “Mandatory reporting is something that we are keeping under review. The NPSA is working with us and many other stakeholders to agree a single central definition and criteria for reporting serious patient safety incidents.”

The Patients Association said the time had come to force NHS organisations to take part in a national system.

Michael Summers said: “I think the report [on Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust] showed that it is time that we got tough on this. Hospitals need to be forced to report mistakes if we are going to protect patients.”