NHS patient safety strategy priorities for leaders and patient safety specialists

The NHS Patient Safety Strategy encompasses work by many teams. The following list highlights priorities for leaders and patient safety specialists to consider during 2023 and 2024.

Additional detail about each programme’s objectives and timescales is available in the updated 2023/24 key deliverables document on FutureNHS. Patient Safety Specialists can also find more detail in the ‘Priorities for Patient Safety Specialists’ document, also on FutureNHS.

Patient safety culture development

There are many aspects to a good safety culture and leaders need to play a key role in championing its development. Ensuring a just culture guide or equivalent is in place alongside learning from best practice and monitoring safety cultures to identify where work is needed to improve are key actions.

Improving the quality of patient safety incident reporting and supporting transition to the Learn from Patient Safety Events (LFPSE) service

The objective of incident reporting is to highlight opportunities for patient safety to be improved both locally and nationally and to enable that information to be shared. Leaders and specialists should focus on ensuring good quality, timely incident report information is collected and used to inform improvement.

All organisations have been encouraged to transition to the new LFPSE service since the start of its public beta phase and organisations without a local risk management system, such as many in primary care, have been able to use the new service for some time. Organisations connected to the legacy system, the National Reporting and Learning System (NRLS) via a local risk management system, were asked as a minimum, to begin local testing of LFPSE-compliant local risk management systems from the end of March 2023 and to be implementing LFPSE within their local risk management systems by the end of September 2023. A growing number of organisations have already successfully completed their transition to LFPSE.

Implementing the Patient Safety Incident Response Framework (PSIRF)

All providers should be planning and working towards PSIRF being implemented in their organisation from Autumn 2023, subject to work with and agreement from their integrated care boards (ICBs).

Medical examiners

Medical examiner scrutiny of deaths is now being extended from deaths in the acute setting to deaths in non-acute settings. Leaders and specialists should be ensuring that information and intelligence from medical examiner offices is feeding into clinical governance, patient safety and quality surveillance processes.

National Patient Safety Alerts

A key feature of National Patient Safety Alerts is the need for executive oversight and for senior leaders in each organisation to manage the implementation of all relevant actions for each alert.

It is vital that organisations put the right systems and process in place to ensure alert implementation is centrally managed, the required actions are embedded into practice and compliance sign-off has executive oversight.

Implement the framework for involving patients in patient safety

All providers should be including a minimum of two patient safety partners on their safety related clinical governance committees. It is intended this will become a contractual requirement in the NHS Standard Contract for 2024/25.

Patient safety education and training

Our ambition is for all NHS staff to undertake Patient Safety Syllabus Level 1 (essentials) training.

Level 2 (access to practice) is designed for those who have an interest in understanding more about patient safety and/or who want to go on to access the higher levels of training.

Training in levels 3 and 4 will be launched for patient safety specialists from September 2023.

Training in our new Essentials of Digital Clinical Safety course is now available for any relevant staff.

Patient safety improvement

National safety improvement priorities are aligned to the delivery of the Patient Safety Strategy, the NHS Long Term Plan and the NHS Operational Planning Guidance. They are informed by national professional leadership and policy teams across NHS England. The priorities for delivery in 2022/23 were deterioration, maternity, medication, mental health, and PSIRF, some of which continue through 2023/24.