• Organisations which issue safety alerts to use single template
  • Providers expected to have senior oversight to make sure action is taken over alerts

All safety alerts issued by national bodies are to be standardised under a single template in an effort to eradicate confusion and reduce the burden on NHS organisations.

The government plans to require all organisations that issue safety alerts to use a single agreed template overseen by the National Patient Safety Alerting Committee.

The new national patient safety alerts will be sent to trusts, pharmacies, GP practices and mental health providers with some alerts targeted to specific sectors.

Providers will be expected to have in place senior oversight to ensure action is taken on alerts and, under the new system, the Care Quality Commission will be inspecting safety alerts and organisational responses.

The NaPSAC was created last year and is chaired by national patient safety director Aidan Fowler. It brings together a number of national bodies to make sure serious safety alerts are given the status needed.

Under the plans, NaPSAC will identify which nationally-issued advice and guidance is deemed “safety critical and mandatory” for organisations to act on.

The Department of Health and Social Care said the aim of the new system was to remove the current complexity and variation in safety alerts so that important messages are recognised and acted on sooner.

Before being able to issue alerts, national bodies will need to be accredited against NaPSAC’s requirements. All bodies are expected to be accredited in the next 12 months.

Once accreditation has been approved, organisations will be required to use the new standardised template. So far only NHS England and NHS Improvement’s patient safety team has been accredited.

Last year, the CQC published a report warning trusts “receive too many safety-related messages from too many different sources”, adding: “With the competing pressures on staff due to high workloads, implementing patient safety alerts can be seen as just one more thing to do, and can lead to staff taking a mechanistic and siloed approach to implementation.”

Yesterday marked World Patient Safety Day. An event hosted by Imperial College London and sponsored by DHSC heard avoidable harm in healthcare was one of the top 10 causes of death and disability worldwide.

The UK government has also provided funding for a global patient safety collaborative with the World Health Organisation to focus on helping low and middle-income countries.