Developing a patient safety syllabus


Prof Wendy Reid, Executive Director of Education and Quality and National Medical Director at Health Education England (HEE), describes the plans for a universal patient safety syllabus and training programme for the whole NHS.

We are collaborating with the national patient safety team, other national partners, local systems and regulators to broaden and deepen training; to make it possible for every member of the NHS to access consistent, high quality patient safety resources according to their role. We have been asked to:

  • develop a robust, achievable and aspirational plan for patient safety training for the NHS
  • make safety training within professional educational programmes explicit and mapped to the competencies in a national syllabus
  • ensure every member of the NHS has access to patient safety training; from ward to board and from commissioner to provider.

HEE will work with NHS Improvement and NHS England to produce the best informed and safety-focused workforce in the world. Developing a consistent national patient safety syllabus to apply across a variety of competence levels and address the different learning needs of 1.3 million staff in 350 different careers is an enormous undertaking. Concerted effort over years will be needed to embed it in existing training curricula and for local systems to commission and deliver the training throughout their workforce.

Delivering a multidisciplinary syllabus

Developing this new syllabus will need the support of universities and higher education institutions, patients, local systems, providers, regulators and others.

To maximise the speed at which training is implemented we will:

• take advantage of existing educational programmes and build on evidence-based education and training using existing educational resources and infrastructure

• design educational activities that can be delivered as efficiently and effectively as possible, using technology-enhanced learning and encouraging collaboration

• encourage, where appropriate, simulation learning as a form of safe experiential learning, allowing people to fail safely rather than being put in high risk processes too early in their training.

All staff will follow the same syllabus. However, working with system partners, HEE will ensure that this high quality patient safety training is available to staff at an appropriate level, from an introduction to patient safety for staff new to the NHS to specialist training modules for our proposed patient safety specialists and others who are interested. 

Where possible, patient safety training will be delivered in multidisciplinary teams and across patient pathways to reflect the way services are delivered. This will help people learn about safety alongside others in a collaborative manner – this learning approach itself enhances patient safety.

The responses to the strategy consultation gave us valuable ideas for what to include in patient safety training. HEE will work to ensure the syllabus can be implemented across all healthcare sectors and all staff groups and will apply its quality framework to evaluate training and assure quality.

We intend to explore a credentialing approach to provide a level of confidence to the NHS in relation to the skills people acquire through their training.

HEE will collaborate with regulators, other NHS organisations, and education providers through 2019/20 to build on existing curricula and syllabuses, including those developed with the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and the WHO. 

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