Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch. National learning report. A thematic analysis of HSIB's first 22 national investigations. 2021. (accessed 4 October 2021)

NHS England and NHS Improvement. Provisional publication of Never Events reported as occurring between 1 April and 31 July 2021. 2021. (accessed 4 October 2021)

World Health Organization. World patient safety day 2021: 17 September 2021. 2021. (accessed 4 October 2021)

Moving beyond the rhetoric to a sustainable NHS patient safety culture

14 October 2021
6 min read
Volume 30 · Issue 18


John Tingle, Lecturer in Law, Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham, discusses World Patient Safety Day and some recent patient safety reports

The annual World Patient Safety Day took place on 17 September 2021. Iconic buildings in many parts of the world were lit up in orange in support of the day, and special lectures, seminars and other events took place. This year's theme was patient safety issues in mothers and newborns. Stakeholders were encouraged to look at solutions to the problem, undertake research and adopt best practices. Public engagement was also a focus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated some very stark statistics:

‘Approximately 810 women die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. In addition, around 6700 newborns die every day, amounting to 47% of all under-5 deaths. Moreover, about 2 million babies are stillborn every year, with over 40% occurring during labour.’

WHO, 2021

Most stillbirths and maternal and newborn deaths are avoidable, WHO states, provided safe and quality care is given by skilled health professionals working in supportive environments (WHO, 2021).

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