NHS reporting culture will improve patient safety

The NHS in England has stepped up its data collection, a vital move towards a “fantastic reporting culture” aimed at improving patient safety.

Dr Mike Durkin told the Patient Safety Congress at the ICC in Birmingham that the service’s culture of gathering data “had not dimmed” and 100,000 reports had been collated in the past month.

“There is a lot to do and a lot of levels to do it at,” added Dr Durkin as he took part in a question and answer session on the first day of the Congress. “We have collected reports in and open but confidential nature.”

Dr Durkin signalled the NHS needs to further increase reporting from general practice “to increase our understanding of the problems surrounding patient safety”.

Alongside Dr Durkin taking questions on the theme of Looking forward – what’s shaping patient safety strategy, were Niall Dickson, chief executive and registrar of the General Medical Council; Jackie Smith, chief executive of the Nursing and Midwifery Council; Catherine Dixon, chief executive of the NHS Litigation Authority; and Peter Walsh, chief executive of Action Against Medical Accidents.

Outside the debating hall, Dr Durkin added: “Patient Safety Congress is a brilliant opportunity for the whole patient safety community to come together and reaffirm their commitment to delivering the safest possible care.

“We are determined to create a system that will be an exemplar of good practice in reducing avoidable harm.

“It must matter to everyone in healthcare that we do not walk past when we see a harmful, or potentially harmful, event.

“Information must be acted upon. I would expect organisations to be fully scrutinising their patient safety incidents. Organisations seeing relatively few incidents need to ask themselves if they really are getting the full picture of what is going on.”

He added: “We have put in place a number of initiatives to significantly reduce incidents of patient harm. Firstly, a three year strategy for nursing, midwifery and care staff will contribute to high quality, compassionate and excellent health and wellbeing outcomes for patients.

“Secondly, Professor Donald Berwick is chairing a National Advisory Group on the Safety of Patients in England. The group includes world-leading experts in all aspects of the culture and processes of minimising patient harm and will advise the NHS in England on how to prevent patients being harmed while receiving healthcare.

“Thirdly, Professor Sir Bruce Keogh is leading an investigation into fourteen hospitals that are persistent outliers on mortality indicators.

“The NHS sees one million people every 36 hours. The overwhelming majority of patients experience no harm and report a positive experience of their care. But we must focus on those who do not.”

During the question and answer session, Peter Walsh, of Action Against Medical Accidents, praised Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, the medical director of NHS England, saying: “I thought what Sir Bruce did about the Leeds situation was commendable. The principle of having a ‘no blame’ suspension was good.”

Catherine Dixon, chief executive of the NHS Litigation Authority, said: “We are looking at new ways of supporting the NHS and we have been actively encouraging openness and candour for a number of years.”

Dr Phil Hammond, GP and broadcaster, who hosted the session, said: “There are some great things going on in patient safety.”


  1. whistleblower says:

    That’s not what I see as an NHS worker, when EVWEYDAY in my job I ask staff to report things only to be told, no thanks I’m not purring my head above the parapit.
    We need ro remove the parapit. No one in my hospital is prepared to complain. No-one

  2. Kelvin Rowland-Jones says:

    I am concerned about how primary care incidents that are not considered Serious Incidents/ Serious Events are recorded, shared and investigated.
    There are many of these low level incidents eg dispensing errors, prescribing errors, admisnistration errors etc that used to be reported to and found by PCTs, particualrly their Medicines Management Teams, that PCTs used to record share and investigate. In the new commissioning architecture there does not seem to be a local system in place for this to happen now.
    I have raised this with various departments in our AT and noone is able to help despite others sharing my concerns.

    Any thougths?.