There has been a 50 per cent improvement in compliance with patient safety alerts over the last six months.

Analysis by HSJ’s sister magazine Nursing Times of the first figures published by the National Patient Safety Agency shows that on 19 January there were 654 instances of outstanding alerts at 205 trusts.

This represents a significant drop since August, when there were 1,242 alerts not acted on, among 251 trusts.

However, some alerts date back as far as 2004 and five organisations were listed as having more than 10 outstanding alerts.

They were Stockport Foundation Trust, NHS Manchester, Barts and the London Trust, Bedford Hospital Trust and Aintree University Hospitals Foundation Trust, which had between 10 and 14 each.

The most common outstanding alerts covered administration of insulin, lithium therapy, oxygen therapy, blood safety and communicating with patients and relatives after incidents.

Action Against Medical Accidents chief executive Peter Walsh said: “Every single one of these alerts is meant to be implemented by the deadline.”

But Stockport Foundation Trust director of nursing and midwifery Judith Morris said she had concerns about the decision to publish the compliance data monthly as some trusts would be penalised for being diligent in reporting every monthly breach.

She also claimed Stockport’s figure of 14 outstanding alerts was wrong, due to administrative problems, and that February’s figures would show only one outstanding alert.

NHS Manchester also said its figure was wrong because of administrative problems and that had it had just four outstanding alerts as of 19 January.

In a statement, Bedford Hospital Trust claimed it was now compliant with alerts and would “be administratively closing them down within the next two weeks”. Barts and The London and Aintree University Hospitals did not provide responses in time.