Patient safety is paramount. Ensuring the safety of everyone who comes into contact with health services is a significant challenge for all healthcare providers, public or private.

On 15 December 2006, the Department of Health published its report, “Safety First - A report for patients, clinicians and healthcare managers”. The report was commissioned by Sir Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer, to reconsider the organisation arrangements currently in place to ensure that patient safety is at the heart of the healthcare agenda.

The report makes a number of key recommendations to build on the progress already achieved in embedding patient safety in the NHS. The recommendations include establishing a national patient safety forum to oversee the design and implementation of a national patient safety initiative; simplifying the reporting of adverse events to make it easier for clinical staff to report on a confidential basis without the fear of retribution; and establishing Patient Safety Action Teams to support frontline staff in delivering the national patient safety agenda.

For those working inside and outside the NHS, the report serves as a useful reminder that the issue of patient safety should be at the very core of healthcare policy development and service delivery.