Trusts taking part in the new Sign up to Safety campaign will be asked to commit to giving patients “airline style” safety advice on their stay in hospital, a trust chief executive leading the campaign has said.

Twelve trusts have so far joined the campaign (see box below) - launched by the health secretary yesterday - and aims to halve avoidable deaths over the next three years.

It is being led by Salford Royal Foundation Trust chief executive Sir David Dalton and directed by Suzette Woodward, director of safety, learning and people at the NHS Litigation Authority.

Speaking to HSJ after the launch, Sir David said every organisation that had joined the campaign had been asked to commit to provide a safety briefing for every elective inpatient, an idea that has been inspired by the airline industry pre-take off instructions on what to do in an emergency.

“What this is about is contracting directly with patients so they can be aware of some of the issues and what they might expect,” he said.

Trusts will be given the option of using a video developed by Salford, based on a booklet first produced by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust, or producing their own material.

The video provides advice on how patients can help avoid blood clots and pressure ulcers and encourages them to speak to staff if they have any questions about their medication.

The campaign will focus on reducing pressure ulcers, medication errors and harm caused during labour and birth, as well as self-harm and harm from violence and aggression among mental health patients.

Asked how the campaign would measure whether it had been successful in halving avoidable deaths, Sir David said they would look at mortality ratios such as the hospital standardised mortality ratios and the summary hospital-level mortality indicators.

“I know some people don’t think they are a complete and useful measure. There are other measures under review at the moment but rather than wait and delay [starting the campaign] we’ll use existing measures,” he said.

A new measure of avoidable death based on an analysis of case notes is currently being developed by Lord Darzi and Nick Black at the request of NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh. The work began in July and is expected to take up to two years.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has repeatedly championed Salford for saving £5m through delivering safer care.

Asked whether the trust had to invest to achieve this level of savings, Sir David said Salford had set aside £1m from its surplus when it became a foundation trust to build capability among staff for improvement activities.

However, he said the change in approach, which involved “getting deep into the organisation” to allow frontline staff to develop solutions, did not necessarily have to cost money.

“I think you have got to be deliberate, you can’t just close your eyes and cross your fingers, but a lot of this isn’t about spending money to do things differently; it’s about being clear on what you want to improve and by how much and by when. You then say to staff ‘how do you think we should do this?’

“That’s the biggest change in Salford: instead of telling people what to do we asked them.”

The first 12 trusts to join the Sign up to Safety campaign

  • Central London Community Healthcare Trust
  • Frimley Park Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Nottingham University Hospitals
  • North Bristol Trust
  • Oxleas FT
  • Royal Berkshire FT
  • Royal United Hospital Bath Trust
  • Salford Royal FT
  • Sheffield Teaching Hospitals FT
  • Staffordshire and Stoke Trent Partnership Trust
  • Taunton and Somerset FT
  • 2Gether FT