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Over the last three years researchers from seven departments within SPCR have developed, piloted and implemented a ‘patient safety toolkit’ for general practices.

Increased focus on patient safety in primary care

Patient safety is a complex multi-dimensional concept which includes; diagnostic and prescribing safety, communication, (both within and between practices and other healthcare settings), organisational safety culture and patient reported problems. Each of these dimensions requires different methods of assessments. The Patient Safety Toolkit project team sought to identify potentially suitable tools within these five areas.  This was done by literature reviews and a survey of international general practice organisations and experts in this field. The tools were then piloted in general practices using a combination of qualitative and quantitative techniques and further developed before the final set of tools was identified and then implemented in 46 practices across England.

The toolkit consists of a range of ‘tools’ that can be used to provide a multifaceted assessment of patient safety in practices. They range from a tools to measure the safety of the interface between primary and secondary care in terms of medication reconciliation following a patient’s discharge from hospital, indicators that can give an assessment of the quality and safety of prescribing by individual general practitioners, tools to assess the organisation’s culture and a specific questionnaire to measure patients’ perspectives on safety. They also include an audit to review records to assess whether patients have come to harm and two different safety checklists specifically developed for primary care practice.

I'm delighted that SPCR funding has enabled us to create the patient safety toolkit, and that we now have opportunity for this to be made available at large scale through the RCGP. This will provide a really helpful resource for general practices to identify and tackle patient safety issues


- Professor Tony Avery, project lead

The research team was recently selected in the RCGP Spotlight Project competition and a website has been created to host the patient safety toolkit so that the tools can be available to all general practices. The initiative is also supported by the NIHR Greater Manchester Primary Care Patient Safety Translational Research Centre.

The RCGP are holding four events to promote the new website. They will take place in November in Glasgow, Nottingham, Sheffield, and Bristol. More information will be available shortly.

The Patient Safety Toolkit can be found here www.rcgp.org.uk/clinical-and-research/toolkits/patient-safety.aspx

Related article on RCGP Spotlight competition including Q&A with Tony Avery and Kate Marsden