Covid-19 has placed the health and social care system under unprecedented pressure. As well as creating new challenges for patient safety, the pandemic has also magnified existing problems. It has increased the underlying causes of known patient safety issues and distracted attention away from safety initiatives that, were having traction and success.
The pandemic has also presented us with opportunities to improve patient safety. During the crisis, teams and organisations responded quickly to new ways of working, including using new technology. There has been a more open approach to developing and sharing innovative solutions to problems and overcoming siloed practice. The pandemic gives us a chance to review ways of working and ensure that patient safety is at the heart of our future health and social care structure.
The NHS Patient Safety Strategy published in July 2019 describes how the NHS will continuously improve patient safety over the next ten years.
This strategy sits alongside the NHS Long Term Plan (LTP) and the LTP Implementation Framework. Local system plans to deliver the LTP will include local elements of the strategy: opportunities to improve patient safety are greatest at the point of care.
The approach to renewal post Covid-19 should build on the direction already set out in the NHS long-term plan and will need to be delivered through co-ordinated action across the whole health and care system. As part of this, efforts that were already under way to establish local place-based systems of care through integrated care systems (ICSs) and the partnerships within them should be redoubled, with local authorities playing a central role.
Supporting STPs/ICSs and healthcare providers to implement features of the NHS Patient Safety Strategy can only be achieved through the joint efforts of multiple organisations, and for the last 3 years, Govconnect’s Patient Safety series now entering its 4th year has provided the platform for discussion to shape a better policy in order to better deliver the commitments of the strategy.
Improving Patient Safety & Care 2022 will allow government departments, arms-length bodies, the NHS and local authorities, research institutions, and the charity and voluntary sector to hear from senior leaders from many of the key partner organisations involved in implementing the patient safety strategy.