General practice patient safety reporting form launched

NHS England is making it easier than ever before for general practice staff to report patient safety incidents.

A new e-form is being launched today to enable general practice staff to quickly and easily report patient safety incidents to the National Reporting and Learning System (NRLS) – the national patient safety incident database.

Reports of harm or near misses to the NRLS provide NHS England with important insight of incidents from across the country. This enables risks to be identified and appropriate action to be taken to prevent incidents – such as the cascading of patient safety alerts, developing learning resources and holding workshops for NHS staff.

Incident reporting is also important at a local level because it helps the healthcare system to learn what can be done locally to keep patients safe from avoidable harm.

With 360 million consultations each year, general practice is the most common place for patient interaction with the health service. Despite this, the number of safety incidents reported to the NRLS from primary care remains low compared to the almost 1.5 million reports each year from hospital-based care. This makes it difficult to develop appropriate and relevant support and learning resources for practice staff.

The new e-form, which has been developed in consultation with general practice staff, can be completed in a matter of minutes, with many questions requiring quick and simple answers – such as the location of where the incident happened and the patient’s age. Practice staff can use the form to report anything from administration errors to incidents relating to sepsis.

Practices can choose to include their practice code or can submit a report entirely anonymously. Patient identifiable information is also not required.

GPs can also gain Continuing Professional Development (CPD) credits by submitting incident reports via the e-form.  Upon submission of the incident report there is the option to request a bounce back email with a Significant Event Audit template which can be used for CPD, Appraisal and Revalidation. This can also provide evidence of patient safety activity during CQC inspections.

Dr Mike Durkin, Director of Patient Safety at NHS England, said: “More reports from general practice will help us to achieve an improved picture of patient safety in primary care and to share vital learning from near misses and when things go wrong. This information will be used to build a safer NHS as we strive to continually protect our patients from avoidable harm.”

All patient safety incidents (clinical and non-clinical) should be reported where a patient was harmed or could have been harmed. This includes near misses and incidents where positive action prevented an incident from occurring.

The e-form will be available from 26 February 2015 and can be accessed from  It is recommend that the ‘e-form icon’ is downloaded to desktops (a simple drag and drop process) for quick access to the new GP eform. See our Patient Safety in General Practice pages to download a guide to the new form.

General practices are also encouraged to Sign up to Safety. The national campaign is designed to help make the NHS the safest healthcare system in the world by creating a system devoted to continuous learning and improvement.  For further information about how practices can get involved and access a range of resources to help them keep patients safe, visit:

See also a blog post by Martyn Diaper, NHS England’s Head of Patient Safety (Primary Care), and a practising GP, about the importance of reporting in patient safety.