Douglas Bilton and Harry Cayton discuss the relationship between regulators and those they regulate – be they people, places or products – and the impact this can have on patient safety.

The authors propose that regulators should work together to create a regulatory system which minimises the multiplicity of different sources of guidance and direction, which is consistent and clear, and which can be seen to be a single regulatory force with different elements. By working together to create conditions which promote engagement with professional responsibility and identity, regulators can create a consistent regulatory system within which safe care can flourish.

The Health Foundation is calling for a stepwise change in thinking about patient safety. This paper forms part of a programme of work we are undertaking to help answer the question: How do we know care is safe? We want to build on a culture that has focused almost exclusively on measuring past harm and enhance this to incorporate approaches to measurement that also establish the presence of safety.

Additional patient safety resources

If you’re interested in patient safety then take a look at our dedicated Patient safety resource centre for hundreds of practical tools, materials and downloads.