The NHS Patient Safety Strategy

The NHS Patient Safety Strategy describes how the NHS will continuously improve patient safety, building on the foundations of a safer culture and safer systems.


The NHS Patient Safety Strategy

The NHS Patient Safety Strategy sets out how the NHS will support staff and providers to share safety insight and empower people – patients and staff – with the skills, confidence and mechanisms to improve safety. Getting this right could save almost 1,000 extra lives and £100 million in care costs each year.

The strategy is evolving over time to ensure it is supporting the NHS to meet its current challenges and priorities, remains relevant and can impact on the areas where need is greatest.

The National Patient Safety Team are supporting the NHS to achieve the strategy’s aims through a series of programmes and areas of work. All of this work relates to the strategy’s foundations of ‘patient safety culture’ and ‘patient safety systems’, and the three strategic aims ‘insight’, ‘involvement’ and ‘improvement’.

Key documents and updates

Read this blog from Aidan Fowler, National Director of Patient Safety, to find out about the latest updates for 2023 and 2024.

Progress so far

Emerging evidence shows that the NHS Patient Safety Strategy is making progress towards the impact we anticipated in 2019: saving an additional 1,000 lives and £100 million per year. Latest figures from June 2023 indicate we are halfway to achieving that aim.

Our NHS Patient Safety Strategy: Progress so far webpage details some highlights of where the strategy is having an impact, along with a selection of case studies.

You can also find further detail on the strategy’s key initiatives via the links below:


Key components of the strategy

Aidan Fowler, National Director of Patient Safety, introduces the NHS Patient Safety Strategy.

Hugh McCaughey – A key principle of the NHS Patient Safety Strategy is continuous improvement. Hugh McCaughey, National Director of Improvement, discusses the relationship between Quality Improvement and patient safety.


Dr Suzette Woodward, director of the Sign up to Safety Campaign that ran from 2014 to 2019, describes the equally important behaviours of kindness and civility that support patient safety.

There is a clear interest in widening patient safety thinking beyond things that go wrong. Dr Suzette Woodward, describes the concept of Safety II and the importance of also looking at why things routinely go right in healthcare.

The National Reporting and Learning System (NRLS) has been at the heart of NHS patient safety insight since 2004, but it uses outdated technology, Lucie Musset, product owner for a new digital system to replace the NRLS describes what it will do and how it will benefit patient safety.


Developing the strategy

Between December 2018 and February 2019 we held a consultation on our original set of ideas for a national patient safety strategy for the NHS.

We received 527 contributions from organisations and individuals (staff, patients and carers), and attended stakeholder meetings and engagement events. We also held workshops with staff, patients and senior leaders across the country and hosted online discussions. See Annex 1 above for a summary of the results of the consultation.

You can also view our original proposals and the consultation questions in our consultation discussion document.

Contact us

If you would like further information about the NHS Patient Safety Strategy, or have any questions, please email