Using patient safety events data to keep patients safe

A core part of the work of the National Patient Safety Team is to identify patient safety risks that occur in the delivery of healthcare. We then develop advice and guidance to support the NHS to take action to address those risks and keep patients safe.

To do this we:

  • review patient safety events recorded by staff and patients on our national systems, as well as information from other sources, to identify new or under recognised patient safety issues
  • conduct further review, working with a range of experts, to understand if there is a wider patient safety issue, and decide the most appropriate action to take
  • develop the resulting advice and guidance, such as National Patient Safety Alerts, to support providers across the NHS to keep patients safe.

Collecting information on patient safety events

Our national systems for collecting records of patient safety events recorded by staff and patients are:

Through these systems we have access to information on over 23 million patient safety events recorded since the NRLS was launched in 2003. Over 2 million patient safety events are now recorded annually.

We also consider other sources of intelligence, including information from direct correspondence, coroners, and other partner organisations, including the MHRA and UK Health Security Agency (formally Public Health England).

Issues we’ve addressed through our patient safety review and response work

A range of information is available to show the resulting advice and guidance we have issued or supported through our patient safety review and response work.

The impact of our review and response work

Our national review and response work is a key part of the NHS patient safety strategy, which estimates 160 lives and £13.5 million in treatment costs are saved every year from the resulting advice, guidance and other outputs

Find out more

More detailed information about our processes for reviewing information on patient safety events and how we decide what action to take can be found on our Reviewing patient safety events and developing advice and guidance webpage.

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