NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh has said preventing venous thromboembolism will be the top clinical priority for improving quality and productivity in hospitals in 2010-11.

A national programme is being developed to tackle the condition and trusts that do not make significant improvements will be fined through the commissioning for quality and innovation (CQUIN) framework.

Sir Bruce said there are around 30,000 deaths a year from venous thromboembolism in the UK, 25,000 of which are avoidable.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges is supporting the programme, and Royal College of Surgeons president John Black is named as clinical lead.

Sir Bruce said: “It is the first time we have been able to bring the colleges into a delivery programme in the NHS. I want them to feel part of the NHS rather than on the sidelines.

“If it works there is an opportunity to expand that into other areas of clinical practice.”