Implementing a national strategy for patient safety: lessons from the National Health Services in England

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Improving patient safety has become a core issue for many modern health care systems.

However, knowledge of the best ways for government-initiated efforts to improve patient safety is still evolving, although there is considerable commonality in the challenges faced by countries. Actions to improve patient safety must operate at multiple levels of the health care system simultaneously. Using the example of the NHS in England, this article highlights the importance of a strategic analysis of the policy process and the prevailing policy context in the design of the national patient safety strategy.

The paper identifies a range of policy 'levers' (forces for change) that can be used to support the implementation of the national safety initiative and, in particular, discusses the strengths and limitations of the 'business case' approach that has attracted recent interest.