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'Brave' new patient safety drive launched for health service

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A new patient safety drive to halve avoidable harm in England will be “brave” and not follow the usual “paternal” NHS approach to pushing for improvements, according to the senior nurse leading the Sign up Safety Campaign.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt was due to formally launch the 15 patient safety collaboratives that will support the new Sign up to Safety campaign on Tuesday.

They will be hosted by the country’s 15 academic science health networks and receive £12m a year for the next five years.

Campaign director and nurse Suzette Woodward revealed that trusts would be able to bid for one off payments from the NHS Litigation Authority to spend on making improvements to safety.

Safety improvements must be targeted at areas where the trust has had costly litigation claims in the past and could include more equipment, additional staff training or employing a research nurse, she said.

Suzette Woodward

Mr Hunt has set a target to halve avoidable harm over the next three years through the campaign and the collaboratives.

However, Ms Woodward said it marked a new approach to improvement in the NHS.

“This isn’t about putting organisations on a performance chart,” she said. “People in the NHS genuinely want to improve the care they provide. We are trusting them with that and providing some money to help, and we’ll see over a period of time if it has made a difference.

“It’s quite a brave thing to do. The usual NHS approach, which is quite paternal, asks people to show they’ve made a difference before they’ve had chance to have an impact.”

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