A patient safe future. A new strategy in the making.

The launch of NHS Improvement’s consultation on developing a national patient safety strategy will mean safety is integral to the long-term plan for the NHS. The strategy is being developed alongside the NHS Long Term Plan published on 7 January and will be relevant to all parts of the NHS, be that physical or mental health care, in or out of hospital and primary care.

The NHS LTP has been designed to address the pressures on the healthcare system that impact on patient safety with strategies on workforce planning, service configuration and care integration. With patient safety identified as one of the ten priority areas that the NHS will focus on as part of its strengthened efficiency and productivity programme, the Plan provides that improving patient safety will reduce patient harm and the substantial costs associated with it through a new ten-year national patient strategy to be published in spring 2019.

The consultation launched in December 2018 aims to develop a patient safety strategy that allows the NHS to:

  • draw insight from the many sources of patient safety information
  • give staff at all levels the skills and support they need to help improve patient safety – so that they can be the infrastructure for safety improvement
  • reduce harm by 50 per cent in key areas by 2023/24 and beyond through specific patient safety initiatives

The strategy will be underpinned by three principles

  • a just culture - a concept raised by Don Berwick in his 2013 report, A promise to learn, a commitment to act where he advised the NHS to “abandon blame as a tool” and focus on changing systems and processes to make it easier for people to do their jobs safely.
  • openness and transparency – talking about incidents where people were harmed can be uncomfortable. Not talking about them is dangerous. Openness is a prerequisite for sharing insight about safety.
  • continuous improvement – this is about accepting that improving patient safety is not a problem to be solved once and for all but a constant aim for all those working in the health and care ecosystem.

Proposals include:

  • A new Patient Safety Incident Management System.
  • Redesign of the format of and the criteria for the development of patient safety alerts.
  • Improve the quality of safety investigations.
  • Patient safety curriculum for all current and future NHS staff.
  • Network of patient safety specialists.
  • Recruitment of patient advocates for safety.
  • Dedicated patient safety support team to be assigned to particularly challenged organisations to help understand the causes of challenges and then support improvement.
  • A range of initiatives covering where the most significant harm is seen, litigation costs are highest, unwarranted variation is greatest and evidence based interventions are known to mitigate risk. The main route for delivering these initiatives would be the through Patient Safety Collaboratives.

Have your say

NHS Improvement are keen to make sure the strategy works for patients, NHS staff and providers. Get in touch and have your say -  you can choose to answer all the questions or only the ones that interest you. Visit the consultation webpage to read the proposed strategy and share your views via the online survey or you can email your views to [email protected].

The consultation is running until 15 February 2019.

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Every piece of content we create is correct on the date it’s published but please don’t rely on it as legal advice. If you’d like to speak to us about your own legal requirements, please contact one of our expert lawyers.

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