NHS England promises new and far reaching drive to improve patient safety

NHS England today highlighted the significant work it is leading to improve the safety of patients as part of a co-ordinated response to the Francis Report.

In the coming months NHS England will:

  • Launch Patient Safety Collaborative Programmes in a network covering the entire country – that will bring together frontline teams, experts, patients, commissioners and others to tackle specific patient safety problems as well as learning from each other to improve safety.
  • Create an NHS Improvements Fellows programme – appointing 5,000 fellows within five years who will be champions, experts, leaders and motivators in patient safety and will help the collaboratives devise and implement solutions.
  • Make Patient Safety Data more accessible – ensuring up-to-date information on patient safety issues, including staffing, pressure sores, falls and other key indicators will be available at the fingertips of patients.
  • Publish Never Events Data – and by so doing for the first time placing the NHS as a world leader among health services in terms of openness and transparency.
  • Re-launch the Patient Safety Alerts System – giving a clearer framework for organisations to understand issues and take rapid action when responding to patient safety risks.

NHS England has already taken action in response to the concerns raised by the tragedy at the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. This includes launching the Friends and Family Test to gather patient feedback, and rolling out a new plan for nursing, midwifery and care staff – the 6Cs Compassion in Practice strategy.

Earlier this year, NHS England’s medical director, Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, carried out a review of the quality of care and treatment provided by 14 hospital trusts that are persistent outliers on mortality indicators.

Chief Nursing Officer, Jane Cummings, who is leading NHS England’s response to the Francis report said:  “The lasting legacy that NHS England can give back to the patients and families who suffered  in Mid-Staffs is to make the NHS the safest healthcare service in the world.

“We need to embrace transparency and learning, unequivocally and everywhere, so as to build trust with the public and knowledge within the NHS.  And we need to involve patients, their families and carers as much as possible in that process.

“We believe this is the way to drive a safety-first culture in to every corner of the NHS.  We are not there yet, but these latest steps on staffing, patient safety and candour all represent another very significant leap forward.

“There is clear evidence and a vital link between the numbers of staff, and their skill levels, and patient outcomes. There is also a link between the experience of staff, and their ability to work within good teams and overall patient outcomes and experience.

“We must have the right number of staff and the right mix of abilities to meet the needs of patients. Staffing requirements need to be set at the right level from ward-to-ward, service-to-service, and hospital-to-hospital. Nationally set minimum staffing levels won’t deliver the flexibility that hospitals need to ensure they provide the high quality of services for their patients.

“It’s about having the right number of staff at local levels. Patients and the public are entitled to know that we have the correct number of people in place to provide safe, quality care every time.

“We need to ensure we provide care and compassion at all times, and that we are candid, open and transparent about the standard of services we provide.”

Dr Mike Durkin, National Director of Patient Safety, NHS England, said:  “We are announcing a range of initiatives to strengthen and reinforce patient safety in the NHS.

“We will establish 15 locally-led and owned Patient Safety Improvement Collaborative programmes to cover every geographical area of England; bringing together frontline teams, experts, patients and commissioners to tackle patient safety problems, develop solutions, and learn from each other.

“We will also appoint a force of 5,000 Patient Safety Fellows to further strengthen patient safety by acting as champions, experts, leaders and motivators to drive patient safety improvement.

“NHS organisations will be supported to take rapid action on patient safety risks by the re-launch of the patient safety alerts system. This new approach will include greater clarity on how organisations can ensure they have taken the right action in response to alerts, and so ensure patients are protected.

“We will bring together, for the first time and in one place, all the robust patient safety data we have available about NHS hospitals. Available online, this will make clear to the public what patient safety data does, and does not, mean about the safety of our hospitals.

“Additionally, we are soon to start publishing data on the ‘never events’ at a greater level of detail than ever before – data on very serious, largely preventable patient safety incidents.


  1. Dr Emma Wheatley says:

    I am very keen to get involved in this. I already teach on patient safety and supervise foundation doctors on a management tracks in patient safety. I am currently clinical lead in patient safety.

    Keen to help other trusts and have recently advised neighbouring trust.

    Love to be involved in patient safety fellowship programme.


  2. Susan Longden says:

    Dear Sir/Madam
    I am interested to know how the positions you are creating, for Patient Safety Fellows, will be advertised and what qualifications or experience you will be looking for. I am at present a Sister in the operating theatres and have a wealth of knowledge and experience in maintaining standards to ensure patient safety and clinical effectiveness.
    I would appreciate your feedback.
    Susan Longden