Changes to the NHS could see patient safety suffer as dedicated standards organisations are replaced by NHS Commissioning Board functions, an HSJ Resource Centre feature discovers.

The abolition of the National Patient Safety Agency, in particular, means that there will no longer be a body focusing solely on patient safety.

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Although the Commissioning Board could in some cases exert greater influence across the NHS than the NPSA, its budget for patient safety is likely to be far smaller than the NPSA’s, raising fears that patient safety will suffer as organisations focus heavily on efficiency and cost-saving measures.

Action against Medical Accidents chief executive Peter Walsh said: “There is a danger that [the focus on patient safety] will become diluted and lost.

“Patient safety overall will be a loser as a result of the reforms.”

The HSJ feature finds that nurses are also concerned at the abolition of the arm’s length agency.

Royal College of Nursing policy director Howard Catton said: “Nursing staff are acutely aware that what is being sold to them as efficiency savings feels like a cut in services, which has the potential to have a detrimental impact on patient care.

“It does feel as if a very important safety net is being removed at a time when it is most needed.”