NHS organisations who have been collecting data using the NHS Safety Thermometer have been seeking guidance on how to explain the NHS Safety Thermometer in general and their own data in particular. The purpose of this letter is therefore to provide an overview of the collection and advise the NHS how they can help to provide an accurate interpretation of their data for interested parties.
The letter from Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS Medical Director and Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer, NHS Commissioning Board to NHS chief executives, medical and nursing directors provides links to further guidance and information. It cautions against using the NHS Safety Thermometer data inappropriately and outlines some early lessons that have been learned. These include:
- importance of understanding demographics and case mix
- that not all harm is avoidable
- user training and understanding is key
- focus should be on the burden of harm to patients, not which organisation harm is detected in.