Safer Patients Initiative

Lessons from the first major improvement programme addressing patient safety in the UK

February 2011

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Key points

  • There were significant improvements at a micro-system level, where participant sites saw improvements in patient safety in specific clinical areas, such as a ward or critical care unit.
  • The initiative was effective in raising awareness and galvanising action around the issue of avoidable harm to patients.
  • The programme was successful in engaging senior managers whose support and enthusiasm helped to make safety an organisational priority.
  • However, at an organisation-wide level the evaluation found no additional impact of the programme within the timeframe.

This learning report provides an overview of the Safer Patients Initiative (phases 1 and 2) and its evaluation, and highlights the impact of the programme, key lessons and further issues for exploration.

Key lessons include:

  • a wider set of methods and approaches is needed to affect patient safety at an organisational level
  • the scale of resources needed to make organisation-wide change should be appreciated
  • there is a need to make changes at every level of the system, from policy to deep engagement with professionals
  • time is needed to deliver and embed improvements.

Further reading

Research report

Safer Patients Initiative: Phase 1

Mixed-method evaluation of a large-scale organisational intervention to improve patient safety in four UK hospitals

Research report

Safer Patients Initiative: Phase 2

A controlled evaluation of the second phase of a complex patient safety intervention implemented in English hospitals

Research report

Safer Patients Initiative: Case studies

A series of case studies illustrating the work of the Health Foundation's Safer Patients Initiative

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