The NHS Patient Safety Strategy


This strategy describes how the NHS will continuously improve patient safety, building on the foundations of a safer culture and safer systems.

Patient safety is about maximising the things that go right and minimising the things that go wrong. It is integral to the NHS’ definition of quality in healthcare, alongside effectiveness and patient experience. 

This strategy sets out what the NHS will do to achieve its vision to continuously improve patient safety. 

Annex 1: NHS Patient Safety Strategy consultation results PDF, 1.6 MB

A summary of the results of the consultation held December 2018 to February 2019 on proposals for a patient safety strategy.

Annex 2: NHS Patient Safety Strategy equality impact assessment PDF, 234.6 KB

Under the Equality Act 2010 (the public sector equality duty) we have analysed the potential impact of the NHS Patient Safety Strategy on health equality and on groups with protected characteristics.

It is human to make mistakes so we, the NHS, need to continuously reduce the potential for error by learning and acting when things go wrong. In this spirit, we will report progress against this strategy annually and update it as needed.

Easy read version

Key components of the strategy

Aidan Fowler, National Director of Patient Safety, introduces the NHS Patient Safety Strategy.

A key principle of the NHS Patient Safety Strategy is continuous improvement. Hugh McCaughey, National Director of Improvement, discusses the relationship between Quality Improvement and patient safety.

Dr Suzette Woodward, director of the Sign up to Safety Campaign that ran from 2014 to 2019, describes the equally important behaviours of kindness and civility that support patient safety.

There is a clear interest in widening patient safety thinking beyond things that go wrong. Dr Suzette Woodward, describes the concept of Safety II and the importance of also looking at why things routinely go right in healthcare.

The National Reporting and Learning System (NRLS) has been at the heart of NHS patient safety insight since 2004, but it uses outdated technology, Lucie Musset, product owner for a new digital system to replace the NRLS describes what it will do and how it will benefit patient safety.

Developing the strategy

Between December 2018 and February 2019 we held a consultation on our original set of ideas for a national patient safety strategy for the NHS.

We received 527 contributions from organisations and individuals (staff, patients and carers), and attended stakeholder meetings and engagement events. We also held workshops with staff, patients and senior leaders across the country and hosted online discussions. See Annex 1 above for a summary of the results of the consultation.

You can also view our original proposals and the online consultation questions in our consultation discussion document.  

Contact us

If you would like further information about the NHS Patient Safety Strategy, or have any questions, please email

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