Scotland ‘leading world’ with patient safety plan

Alex Neil: 'Scotland has much to be proud of on patient safety'. Picture: Michael Gillen
Alex Neil: 'Scotland has much to be proud of on patient safety'. Picture: Michael Gillen
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SCOTLAND is leading the way on patient safety with the introduction of a new programme being implemented in GP surgeries, according to the health secretary.

Alex Neil said Scotland will be the first country in the world to introduce a national patient safety programme across the whole healthcare system.

His comments come as a safety programme for primary care is launched which will see GPs and their staff undertake safety surveys and case note reviews.

The initiative aims to increase staff awareness and integrate safety into the daily work of a surgery to reduce avoidable harm. It follows on from the Scottish Government’s patient safety initiatives in hospitals launched in 2008, which it says has seen a 12.4 per cent reduction in death rates since 2007.

This means almost all patient care will be covered by the Scottish Patient Safety Programme, with schemes now up and running in GP surgeries, hospitals, mental health and maternity services.

Mr Neil said: “We want every Scottish patient to be confident that the NHS care and treatment they receive is safe – every time.

“Regarded as a world leader for our work on patient safety, we already have much to be proud of in Scotland and I am delighted that we are now extending this to primary care.

“Scotland will be the first country in the world to implement a national patient safety programme across the whole healthcare system.”

The Patient Safety Primary Care Programme has been designed and managed by Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) in partnership with NHS Education Scotland.

Jill Gillies, programme manager for HIS, said: “This is a world-leading programme that has already been piloted in Scotland and will build on the professionalism of Scotland’s GPs to improve the quality and safety of care provided.

“It concentrates on every staff member understanding their role in keeping patients safe by improving written communications and managing results – for example, having a more accurate record of the medication patients are taking.”

The move was welcomed by doctors’ leaders in Scotland.

Dr Alan McDevitt, chairman of the British Medical Association’s Scottish GP Committee, said: “This programme will further develop a safety culture in general practice. We therefore welcome the introduction of the patient safety programme in GP practices in Scotland, building on the success of the hospital programme.

“It is vital that practices have sufficient resources to maintain high-quality general practice to deliver care for our patients and that patients have confidence in their local health services.”

Dr Mike Winter, chair of the Patient Safety Primary Care Programme, said: “This programme has been developed in GP practices by practice staff to provide the tools they can use to help prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and avoidable complications.

“The surveys and case note reviews will allow GPs to involve staff and patients in monitoring current safety measures and identify if any changes can be made to further improve them.”