Authored article

Jeremy Hunt: message to NHS staff on 'Sign up to Safety' campaign

The Secretary of State for Health talks about how improving the safety and quality of care can reduce costs in the NHS.

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

nurse with patient

Last week I visited Birmingham Children’s Hospital (BCH), where the staff are rightly proud of the quality and safety record they worked hard to achieve. They are leading the way in bringing the highest safety standards to paediatric care, and are ambassadors of the Sign up to Safety campaign.

BCH is one of over a 100 trusts that have joined the campaign – which aims to reduce avoidable harms by 50% and save 6,000 lives over the next 3 years.

The enthusiasm shown for Sign up to Safety is a remarkable testament to the ongoing commitment of the NHS to learn the lessons of the failings in care at Mid Staffs.

I am delighted that so many trusts are on board, and I look forward to many more joining the Sign up to Safety campaign to help them make the NHS the safest healthcare system in the world.

While visiting BCH, I spoke to staff about the value of safe care – not just for patients, but for the NHS too. I talked about how unsafe care is costing the NHS between £1bn and £2.5bn each year – money that could be invested in more front line staff, better training, better equipment and more time for you to care.

A poster and leaflet are now available for you to display in staff areas - highlighting the value of safe care and the potential savings that could be made and reinvested by reducing avoidable harms.

Of course, not all cases are avoidable, but poor care is expensive and wasteful. It’s down to all of us to prioritise safer care for patients.

I know that NHS staff work tirelessly to ensure the safety and welfare of their patients, but it is important for patients to know the steps they can take to keep themselves safe.

Information and advice is now available in the form of an airline-style safety advice video and information card, which hospital patients can use. The video has already been piloted with positive feedback from patients and staff. and share it with your patients. It can be incorporated into your hospital’s website so patients can watch it before they come into hospital, and hospitals with the Hospedia patient media system will be able to show it to patients once in hospital.

There is so much excellent work being done across the NHS on improving patient safety and compassionate care which is making a real difference for patients.

The respected Commonwealth Fund already rates the NHS as leading the world in patient safety, and I know that the NHS is full of organisations and individuals ambitious to do more. They tell me that being the best healthcare system for safety is not enough for them. They want patients to have an NHS that is the first healthcare system in the world with the same safety standards as the airline industry.

What I have seen and heard this week gives me real confidence that we are now on that journey. Thank you for your continued commitment to keeping patients at the heart of all you do.

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Published 24 October 2014