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Scottish Patient Safety Programme

"The Scottish Patient Safety Programme, marks Scotland as a leader, second to no nation on earth, in its commitment to reducing harm to patients, dramatically and continually."

—Donald Berwick, President Emeritus and Senior Fellow, Institute for Healthcare Improvement


NHSScotland is the first health service in the world to adopt a national approach to improving patient safety. That is why acute hospitals across the country are taking part in a dedicated drive to ensure that patients receive even safer care.  


The Scottish Government and Quality Improvement Scotland have selected the Institute for Healthcare Improvement as its technical lead to design, promote, and implement the Scottish Patient Safety Programme.
The objective of the ground-breaking Scottish Patient Safety Programme (SPSP) is to steadily improve the safety of hospital care right across the country. This will be achieved by using evidence-based tools and techniques to improve the reliability and safety of everyday health care systems and processes.
Real-time data will be gathered unit-by-unit, and the staff caring directly for patients will lead the changes required to achieve the aims of the Programme.
Watch an informational video on the Scottish Patient Safety Programme.
Following the significant progress of the programme, the acute programme has been extended to Primary Care, Maternity Care Services (including Paediatrics, Maternity and Neonates), Mental Health and Sepsis/VTE.
A key element of the programme is that staff caring directly for patients lead the changes and are able to monitor their improvement through the collection of real-time data at the individual unit level. The programme also demonstrates a partnership between the Scottish Government and NHSScotland, working together towards a shared ambition of providing safe care to every patient, who are making a significant contribution to achieving sustainable quality across NHSScotland.
In June 2012, the Scottish Government announced Phase Two of the programme, with a new aim of reducing hospital standardised mortality ratios (HSMRs) from 15% to 20%, and to provide 95% harm-free care by the end of 2015.
Phase Two began in January 2013 and has a significant focus on reducing infections, sepsis/VTE, and preventing falls and pressure ulcers. The programme is also aligned with other work such as Leading Better Care and the broader HAI agenda.


Healthcare Improvement Scotland

Healthcare Improvement Scotland has the focus and key responsibility to help NHSScotland and independent health care providers deliver high-quality, evidence-based, safe, effective and person-centred care; and to scrutinise services to provide public assurance about the quality and safety of that care. Healthcare Improvement Scotland is building on work previously done by NHS Quality Improvement Scotland and the Care Commission and includes:

  • Scottish Health Council
  • Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN)
  • Healthcare Environment Inspectorate
  • Scottish Health Technologies Group


They support the work of the Scottish Medicines Consortium and take a lead role in coordinating the work of the SPSP.



Quality Strategy

The Quality Strategy aims to deliver the highest quality health care to the people of Scotland and ensure that the NHS, Local Authorities and the Third Sector work together, and with patients, carers and the public, towards a shared goal of world-leading health care.


Based on the Institute of Medicine’s six dimensions of quality and informed by what the people of Scotland said that they wanted from their health care system (Caring, Compassionate, Communication, Collaboration, Clean environment, Continuity of care and Clinical excellence), three Quality Ambitions were developed:

  • Person-Centred: Mutually beneficial partnerships between patients, their families, and those delivering health care services which respect individual needs and values, and which demonstrate compassion, continuity, clear communication, and shared decision making.
  • Effective: The most appropriate treatments, interventions, support, and services will be provided at the right time to everyone who will benefit, and wasteful or harmful variation will be eradicated.
  • Safe: There will be no avoidable injury or harm to patients from health care they receive, and an appropriate clean and safe environment will be provided for the delivery of healthcare servicesat all times.