Continuous improvement of patient safety

Continuous improvement of patient safety

Author: The Health Foundation

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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.

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. In Part III, the report 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.

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

  • For people improving safety at the front line, we provide a checklist for safety improvement to be used when developing solutions to safety problems.
  • For leaders of provider organisations, we set out three practical steps that need to be taken to build an organisation-wide approach to continually improving safety. We have also brought together ten Health Foundation resources to support leaders to do this.
  • For government, quality regulators and national bodies with a remit for patient safety, we set out our vision for an effective safety system, which current activities and ambitions should be assessed against.
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