Headlines: April 18th, 2001

A new agency is to be set up to boost patient safety in the NHS. The National Patient Safety Agency will run a mandatory reporting system for logging all failures, mistakes, errors and near-misses across the health service.For the first time it will introduce a single body to handle errors and mistakes and ensure that lessons are learnt and spread throughout the health service.

Details of the agency come in a new report Building A Safer NHS For Patients.

There are currently and estimated 850,000 incidents and errors in the NHS each year. While human error is inevitable with such a large service, the new agency will act as a catalyst to reduce this number dramatically.

It is hoped it will also lead to a more open and blame-free organisation.

The National Patient Safety Agency will be independent. Its role will be to collect and analyse information on adverse events from local NHS organisations, NHS staff and patients and carers, then to assimilate this with other safety-related information from a variety of existing reporting systems and other sources in this country and abroad.

The second part of its role is to produce solutions where risks are identified and set out national goals and establish ways of tracking progress. A key role will be in ensuring lessons learned are fed back into practice.

Building A Safer NHS For Patients is available on the web at www.doh.gov.uk/buildsafenhs