Health secretary Jeremy Hunt is expected to use a major speech in the US today to launch a “patient safety movement” aimed at halving rates of avoidable harm in the NHS over the next three years.
Signing up to the “movement” will be voluntary, but NHS providers that do so will be entitled to discounts on their insurance premiums with the NHS Litigation Authority.
Mr Hunt is expected to announce the plans, along with a raft of other patient safety initiatives, in a speech at the Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle later today.
Virginia Mason has a reputation as one of the safest hospitals in the world after it transformed its approach to care following an incident 10 years ago in which a patient died after being injected with cleaning fluid.
Mr Hunt was due to use his speech to draw parallels with the care scandal at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust and the potential for the NHS to use that as a similar turning point.
On average 3,500 potentially avoidable deaths are reported to the National Reporting and Learning System every year by NHS providers. Mr Hunt will say he wants to save 6,000 lives over the coming three years.
Other new initiatives include the creation of a Safety Action for England (SAFE) team consisting of senior clinicians, managers and patients who are experts in patient safety.
Mr Hunt is also set to use the speech to announce the government plans to consult on extending the planned new duty of candour on providers to incidents causing moderate harm, as well as death and serious harm.
He will reveal that the new patient safety website announced in response to the Francis report will be called howsafeismyhospital.com, and will be part of NHS Choices. It will allow patients to compare hospital performance on a number of safety indicators.
In recognition of the fact that high levels of reporting of harm is generally held to be good for patient safety, NHS England is currently working on an indicator that will identify what the expected levels of reporting should be, so that trusts who are improving patient safety will not be penalised.
The new initiatives build on Professor Don Berwick’s post Francis review of patient safety in the NHS, which recommended the service work to create a culture of continuous learning. NHS England has already announced plans to invest £12m a year in setting up 15 patient safety collaboratives in response to the report.