England’s 15 Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) and the Patient Safety Collaboratives (PSCs) they host are making a significant contribution to the NHS Patient Safety Strategy, through the PSCs’ work supporting the delivery of the National Patient Safety Improvement Programmes and the AHSNs’ focus on accelerating innovation.

Patient safety in partnership: Our plan for a safer future 2019-2025 has been developed to support the NHS Patient Safety Strategy published in 2019, and details how AHSNs will work more closely with health and care organisations to improve safety both in hospitals and community-based services, such as care homes.


Patient Safety Collaboratives

England’s 15 Patient Safety Collaboratives (PSCs) play an essential role in identifying and spreading safer care initiatives from within the NHS and industry, ensuring these are shared and implemented throughout the health and care system.

PSCs are funded and nationally coordinated by NHS England and NHS Improvement, and hosted locally by the Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs).

They deliver the National Patient Safety Improvement Programmes (NatPatSIP), which are a key part of the NHS Patient Safety Strategy, and collectively form the largest safety initiative in the history of the NHS.

Find contact details for your local PSC.

The programme’s aim is to continually reduce error, harm and death as a result of failures in the system, so the NHS becomes comparable with the safest health care services in the world by 2025. They do this by supporting maternity units, emergency departments, mental health trusts, GP practices and care homes to make improvements.

Each PSC works with its local Integrated Care System (ICS) to develop and spread innovative improvement methods, which are systematic, evidence-based and measurable. Approaches may use Safe and Reliable’s framework for high reliability healthcare and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s (IHI) model for improvement.

The NatPatSIP’s current work is focused across five safety improvement programmes, as shown in this ‘driver diagram’ (click to download a PDF):

National Patient Safety Improvement Programmes driver diagram 2022-23


Care Homes (managing deterioration)

Reduce deterioration associated harm by improving the planning, identification, escalation and response (PIER) to physical deterioration through better system co-ordination and as part of safe and reliable pathways across health and social care by March 2023.

Key ambitions:

  • Support testing of the national Paediatric Early Warning System (nPEWS) across a cohort of hospitals to be completed by the end of September 2022 or sooner, based on a review of progress at the end of June 2022.
  • Adoption of deterioration management tools (RESTORE2/RESTORE2mini or equivalent) in at least 85% of care homes (including those homes caring for people with learning disability, autism, and mental ill-health) by the end of March 2023.


Maternity and Neonatal Safety Improvement Programme

  • Contribute to the national ambition, set out in Better Births, to reduce the rates of maternal and neonatal deaths, stillbirths and brain injuries that occur during or soon after birth by 50% by 2025.
  • Contribute to the national ambition, set out in Safer Maternity Care, to reduce the national rate of preterm births from 8% to 6%.
  • Improve the safety and outcomes of maternal and neonatal care by reducing unwarranted variation and provide a high-quality healthcare experience for all women, babies, and families across maternity and neonatal care settings in England.

Key ambitions:

  • To improve the optimisation and stabilisation of the preterm infant.
  • To improve the prevention, identification, escalation, and response (PIER) to maternal and neonatal deterioration.
  • Utilise safety culture insights for improved quality of care and inform local improvement plans.


System Safety Improvement Programme

To create optimal conditions for patient safety improvement across systems.

Key ambitions:

  • Mobilise effective ICS-level Patient Safety Improvement Networks to deliver the priorities within the NHS Patient Safety Strategy.
  • Support the national adoption and scale-up of the Patient Safety Incident Response Framework (PSIRF).


Medicines Safety Improvement Programme

Reduce the severe harm and death associated with medicines by 50% over five years.

Key ambitions:

  • Support at least one ICS per PSC to implement the whole systems approach to high-risk opioid prescribing change package.


Mental Health, Learning Disability and Autism Safety Improvement Programme

Improve safety by reducing harm caused to people using mental health, learning disabilities and autism in-patient services by 2023.

Key ambitions:

  • Reduce restrictive practice in mental health, learning disabilities and autism in-patient services by testing and scaling the reducing restrictive practice (RRP) change package.


Key enablers

The delivery of the five programes is shaped by the these cross-cutting key enablers:

  1. Patient and staff co-design
  2. Achieving patient safety equity
  3. Positive safety climate and culture
  4. Transformational improvement leadership
  5. Building effective patient safety and quality improvement capacity and capability


Patient safety during COVID-19

The AHSN Network published a learning report folliowing its work on safer tracheostomy care and supporting the roll-out of COVID Oximetry @home and virtual wards. The report was launched at Patient Safety Congress in September 2021 and you can download it here.

We have developed a range of resources to help staff and support patient safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, including managing deterioration, pulse oximetry, tracheostomy safety, webinars for GPs and advice for care homes. Read more here.

The AHSN Network published a report on Safer care during COVID-19 in September 2020 as part of the NHS Reset campaign. It illustrates some of the creative ways PSCs supported their local systems during the pandemic and how this experience will be built into future patient safety programmes.


Improving safety in care homes

This report, published in 2019, explores case studies of ways safety for residents of care homes is being improved. The publication showcases over 30 examples of projects in medicines safety, dementia, monitoring and screening, and workforce development. You can download the report here.


You can find out more about the National Patient Safety Improvement Programmes and view more resources here.

If you would like to get in touch with your local Patient Safety Collaborative, please use the contact details for the AHSNs.