Press release

Over £13 million to make the NHS a safer place

Two world-class research centres will receive a share of over £13 million to help make the NHS a safer place for patients, the Government announced today.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


The money, which comes from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), will be used to advance and refine new ways of improving safety in hospitals, GP surgeries and in the community. Research carried out at the centres will translate into real benefits for patients by reducing prescription errors, improving diagnosis of cancer and rare diseases and reducing accidents during surgery.

Imperial CollegeHealthcare NHS Trust will receive just over £7.2 million, and NHS Greater Manchester will receive just over £6.2 million. Examples of projects that will be carried out at the research centres include:

  • A new ‘medication passport’ will be developed by a team at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust to reduce prescribing errors. Between 1% and 2% of patients in hospital are harmed due to these kinds of errors. The passport, carried by a patient or carer, will help eliminate breakdowns in communication that sometimes happen as patients move through the NHS and are seen by different clinical teams.
  • A new internet-based tool will be developed by a team inManchesterto help improve diagnoses made by nurses and doctors in GP surgeries. The tool will identify symptoms of cancer and rare diseases, which will help clinicians who are in any doubt about making a diagnosis.
  • Better safety standards for surgeons to reduce the chances of accidents occurring during surgery. A team at Imperial College HealthCare NHS Trust will look at ways of building and improving upon the existing World Health Organisation surgical safety checklist, with the aim of introducing new measures to improve surgical teamwork and reduce errors.

Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley said:

“Keeping patients safe is a vital part of better Healthcare. New ideas can really help NHS staff to improve processes and make care safer and of high quality. Our research in these world-leading centres will help us to achieve among the safest services anywhere.

“This is why we are investing in this area to make sure that patients receive the highest quality of care.”

Promoting and fostering this kind of clinical research is one of the Government’s top priorities, and through the Health and Social Care Bill the role that research plays in the health service will continue to be strengthened.

Professor Dame Sally C. Davies, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department of Health said:

“These centres are world-class in the highly specialised field of translational patient safety research, and were chosen by a panel of international experts. 

“Their work will result in new ideas, techniques and approaches being adopted across the NHS to improve patient outcomes.”

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS Medical Director said:

“People base their healthcare decisions in the knowledge that medical problems carry risk and that the best treatment often carries a different set of risks. The overall risk should not be made worse by the way we do things or deliver our services.

“The rigorous, high quality research to be carried out by these NIHR Centres will ensure that this avoidable level of risk is reduced or eliminated and lead to safer services for all patients.

The research centres are partnerships between universities and NHS Trusts. This reinforces the relationship between researchers and clinicians, and helps make sure that new ideas make the leap to the clinic or ward.

Notes to editors

  1. Details of the NIHR Patient Safety Translational Research Centres announced today are in the table below:

 NHS Organisation University Partner  Research Themes  Total Funding for five years from August 2012

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust Imperial College London Effective use of Information

Design and Technology

Patients, carers and families

Teamwork, Skills and Safety

Safe Systems

Economics, Evaluation and Policy


NHS Greater Manchester on behalf of Greater Manchester PCT Cluster University of Manchester Medication Safety

Safety improvement in general practice

Interface and Information

Multimorbidity and Patient Safety


  1. About the NIHR

The National Institute for Health Research provides the framework through which the research staff and research infrastructure of the NHS in Englandis positioned, maintained and managed as a national research facility.  The NIHR provides the NHS with the support and infrastructure it needs to conduct first-class research funded by the Government and its partners alongside high-quality patient care, education and training.  Its aim is to support outstanding individuals (both leaders and collaborators), working in world class facilities (both NHS and university), conducting leading edge research focused on the needs of patients.

  1. For further information please contact the Department of Health press office on 020 7210 5221.
Published 16 March 2012