Department of Health. An organisation with a memory. 2000. (accessed 30 August 2023)

Department of Health and Social Care. Government response to ‘Reading the signals: maternity and neonatal services in East Kent – the report of the independent investigation’. 2023. (accessed 30 August 2023)

Report of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust public inquiry. Executive summary. 2013. (accessed 30 August 2023)

Reading the signals. Maternity and neonatal services in East Kent – the report of the independent investigation. 2022. (accessed 30 August 2023)

NHS England. Patient safety incident response framework. Preparation guide. 2022. (accessed 30 August 2023)

NHS England. NHS patient safety strategy – progress so far. 2023. (accessed 30 August 2023)

NHS England/NHS Improvement. The NHS patient safety strategy. Safer culture, safer systems, safer patients. 2019. (accessed 30 August 2023)

Findings conclusions and essential actions from the independent review of maternity services at the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust. 2022. (accessed 30 August 2023)

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. Broken trust: making patient safety more than just a promise. 2023. (accessed 30 August 2023)

Patient Safety Commissioner. Patient Safety Commissioner annual report 2022-23. 2023. (accessed 30 August 2023)

NHS patient safety timeline. 2023. (accessed 30 August 2023)

Patient safety in the NHS: now is the time for optimism

07 September 2023
Volume 32 · Issue 16


John Tingle, Lecturer in Law, Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham, considers the need for optimism about NHS patient safety

In any professional endeavour there is a need for optimism, to believe a promising future lies ahead and that what we are doing means something and makes sense. We don't want to be seen to be running to stand still and that all our efforts are directed to crisis handling and firefighting. We don't want to be caught in a loop where there is no thinking about the future because we are all too busy for reflection.

Looking at the history of patient safety policy making and practice in the NHS it is possible to detect elements of the crisis handling approach. The NHS has been rocked over time by patient safety crises, discussed in my previous columns, and they continue.

When we look back to An Organisation with a Memory (Department of Health (DH), 2000), we can see that many of the patient safety problems highlighted then are still largely with us today. It is a salutary exercise to reflect on this quote from the report and ask whether it still applicable today:

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting British Journal of Nursing and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for nurses. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:

What's included

  • Limited access to clinical or professional articles

  • Unlimited access to the latest news, blogs and video content