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New patient safety Collaboratives launched

A new national programme to improve patient safety and reduce the number of avoidable harm cases in England “will help drive standards even higher”, according to health secretary Jeremy Hunt. 

The programme, which will be coordinated by NHS England and NHS Improving Quality (NHS IQ), will see the establishment of 15 Patient Safety Collaboratives – each led by an Academic Health Science Network (AHSN). 

Hunt says the new Collaboratives will focus on improving safety and empowering patients, carers and staff to “highlight, challenge and implement local improvements” in patient care. 

Each Collaborative will be funded for the next five years by NHS England and will support individuals, teams and organisations to build skills and knowledge about patient safety and quality improvement to create space and time to work on the challenges, and provide opportunities to learn from each other. 

It is a £12m per annum programme, and £5.17m has been allocated for 2014-15 to AHSNs as partial year funding. The initiative is borne out of Professor Don Berwick’s report last year into the safety of patients in England and builds on learning from the Francis and Winterbourne View recommendations. 

Additionally, the Collaboratives are aligned with, and support, the ‘Sign up to Safety’ campaign to make the NHS the safest healthcare system in the world. 

“We have focused unprecedented attention on improving patient safety in the NHS, but there’s always more to do and these Collaboratives will help drive standards even higher,” said Hunt. “The Collaboratives also support our Sign up to Safety campaign, which sets out our ambition to halve avoidable harm over the next three years and save up to 6,000 lives.” 

NHS IQ and NHS England will work nationally with the AHSNs to provide support and opportunities for the Collaboratives to learn from each other, ensuring the most effective and successful solutions are rapidly spread and adopted across England. 

Dr Mike Durkin, NHS England director of patient safety, said: “Having worked closely with Don Berwick and his advisory group it is fantastic to see the Collaboratives about to begin work on what will be the biggest patient safety initiative in the history of the NHS. 

“They will invigorate Don Berwick’s vision of bringing people together at every level, from the patient to the surgeon and the GP to the chief executive, to rapidly accelerate safety improvements in every healthcare setting on both a local and national level.” 

It has been suggested that some of the issues that the Collaboratives may tackle on a ‘whole patient pathway’ basis include reducing infections, pressure ulcers, medication safety, falls and problems with patient transfers and discharge. 

Dr Liz Mear, chief executive, North West AHSN, added: “Leadership, culture and how we measure our achievements will underpin the programme and from working with colleagues across all AHSNs we recognise that how we inspire people to maintain the focus on safety issues even once they are ‘fixed’ will be a key success factor.” 

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