Patient safety strategy

The RCoA patient safety strategy and programme covers five key areas:

1. Promote patient safety in anaesthesia so that it remains a high priority throughout the NHS and independent sector, and ensuring policy supports our members to deliver safe healthcare

We want the College and our partner organisations, their members, and most importantly the patient voice, to be at the heart of our influencing patient safety initiatives. To achieve this, we will:

  • Work in partnership with the Association of Anaesthetists and NHS England and Improvement (NHSEI) through the Safe Anaesthesia Liaison Group (SALG) to bring together interests of several organisations working to improve patient safety across the UK.
  • Contribute to relevant consultations and provide formal patient safety advice to policy makers, NHS organisations, regulators, and other professional bodies.
  • Develop strong working relationships with external organisations including NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI) and their equivalent in the devolved nations, and the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) to ensure high level anaesthetic representation on relevant patient safety projects and guidance.
  • Work with Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN) to promote the adoption of anaesthesia-related patient safety initiatives throughout the independent sector and understand any unique challenges within this sector.
  • Collaborate with the Centre for Perioperative Care providing expertise on patient safety regulations, guidance, and initiatives.
2. Set and maintain the highest standards for anaesthesia and deliver healthcare improvements to secure the best outcomes for patients
  • Provide guidance and advice to members and healthcare organisations regarding issues of poor performance through our Invited Review service.
  • Ensure continuous quality improvement is adopted throughout anaesthetic services to improve patient care.
  • Provide high quality guidance and resources to aid anaesthetists to meet the highest standards of patient care.
  • Support anaesthetic departments to design and deliver high quality anaesthetic services through the implementation and development of the Guidelines for the Provision of Anaesthetic Services (GPAS).
  • Support best practice for service provision through our peer review accreditation service, Anaesthesia Clinical Services Accreditation (ACSA).
3. Support anaesthetists in training and throughout their career
4. Build capability of anaesthetists within their teams to identify and respond to patient safety incidents
  • Support a network of SALG regional safety leads to ensure two-way communication with hospitals around the UK and create a better understanding of local incidents and highlight on going safety projects.
  • Provide a platform for anaesthetists of all grades to share quality improvement projects and learning outcomes via SALG.
  • Engage with partner organisations including the Association of Anaesthetists and NHSEI to highlight potential or existing patient safety issues via the Safe Anaesthesia Liaison Group.
  • Collaborate with the Clinical Directors Network to promote and encourage information sharing and good practice between clinical directors in UK departments of anaesthesia, intensive care medicine and pain management.
5. Promote the concept of an open and supportive culture in healthcare to enhance safety through continuous learning

Many serious incidents arise from a combination of individual and systemic failures or genuine error, often as a result of challenging working conditions and a lack of adequate resources. Doctors must feel able to reflect openly and truthfully to investigating teams without fear that this will be used against them, or learning will not take place. For this to happen the College strongly supports a shift towards a ‘no blame’ culture. We aim to do this by: