The National Patient Safety Committee was established in 2021, bringing key national healthcare organisations together to address complex patient safety issues that require cross-organisation effort and input to make care safer within the NHS.
The committee has since been combined with NHS England’s NHS Patient Safety Strategy Oversight Committee and so also provides oversight of the NHS patient safety strategy, which sets out cross-system commitments of aligned activity and objectives alongside the NHS Long Term Plan.
The committee plays a strategic role in considering the existing landscape within the healthcare system and consistently share insight and thinking about how the whole system can improve the effectiveness of these patient safety functions. It supports continued development and delivery of the patient safety strategy so that benefits are realised and communicated.
For issues where there is no existing system or approach, or inconsistent systems, the committee makes strategic decisions on how they should be operationally managed.
This may include:
- where identified national patient safety risks or issues do not appear to fit within the existing remit of an arm’s length body (ALB), or other national body
- where there may be a need to have a coordinated approach across multiple ALBs due to the complex nature of the national patient safety issue.
The committee is responsible for developing a strategic approach for critical system-wide patient safety issues rather than the delivery of workstreams. It may commission work from member bodies/teams, enabling issues to be addressed in a timely manner. The committee provides oversight of this work to ensure a joined-up and consistent response and to ensure there are no gaps in national patient safety systems.
The committee’s main focus is on the most significant patient safety challenges in terms of scale of harm and where issues benefit most from national organisations working together with a coordinated approach. The Committee is expected to predominantly operate by agreeing common principles, thresholds, and processes and through core members mutually holding each other to account for delivery.
The committee focuses on oversight of the NHS Patient Safety Strategy and supports the NHS National Director of Patient Safety to discharge their accountability to NHS England for delivery of the strategy.
Alongside this, the committee may have workstreams related to specific safety processes needing an aligned approach. It currently has two such workstreams:
- a nationally agreed operational process to improve cross-national organisation working for urgent special patient safety circumstances and to review its operation
- overseeing the accreditation of organisations issuing national patient safety alerts and ensuring alerts meet the required common standards for effectiveness (this function has been taken over from the now disbanded National Patient Safety Alerting Committee).
- Academy of Medical Royal Colleges
- Allied Health Professionals
- Care Quality Commission
- Chief Medical Office
- Department of Health and Social Care
- Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch
- National Guardian’s Office
- Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency
- National Institute for Health and Care Excellence
- NHS England – Chief Pharmaceutical Officer
- NHS England Emergency Preparedness, Resilience and Response
- NHS England: Estates and Facilities
- NHS England: National Patient Safety team including Digital
- NHS England: Nursing Directorate
- NHS England Patient Safety Partners
- NHS England Workforce, Training and Education
- NHS Resolution
- Patient Safety Commissioner for England