Continuous improvement of patient safety

The case for change in the NHS

November 2015

John Illingworth
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Key points

This report synthesises the lessons from the Health Foundation’s work on improving patient safety.

  • Part I illustrates why improving safety is so difficult and complex, and why current approaches need to change.
  • Part II looks at some of the work being done to improve safety and offers examples and insights to support practical improvements in patient safety.
  • Part III explains why the system needs to think differently about safety, giving policymakers an insight into how their actions can create an environment where continuous safety improvement will flourish, as well as how they can help to tackle system-wide problems that hinder local improvement. 

Over the past decade, the Health Foundation has supported front-line teams working in different settings, from hospitals to care homes, to develop and test approaches to making care safer. We have learned about some of the specific causes of harm, and the factors which have both enabled and hindered improvements in safety.

The report also includes specific resources that we hope will contribute to the next phase of safety improvement in the NHS.

Further reading

Research report

The measurement and monitoring of safety

Charles Vincent and colleagues from Imperial College London propose a new framework to help find the elusive answer to the qu...

Learning report

Some assembly required: implementing new models of care

The Health Foundation has captured some of the experiences of those working on the vanguard sites of the new care models prog...

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