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GPs willing to support patient safety agenda

I noted with interest your article (April 12) on the recent study on significant event audit (SEA) published in Quality and Safety in Healthcare.

This is an important study as it demonstrates the extent to which SEA is being conducted within one area (Greater Glasgow).

At the time this study was conducted there appeared to be little incentive to participate in SEA, other than for personal and practice development, therefore it was gratifying to see the vast majority of respondents to the study reported awareness of significant events in their practices and that almost all of these doctors undertook some element of reflection, with 55 per cent having performed all necessary stages of a structured analysis.

Your readers may be interested to know the National Patient Safety Agency has recently published detailed guidance, 'seven steps to patient safety', which sets out how NHS organisations and staff can work to achieve safer patient care.

This is a key document for primary care organisations and for staff and contractors in primary care who want to improve patient safety.

The NPSA is also developing toolkits for incident reporting, significant event audit and risk assessment specifically for primary care organisations.

Awareness of, and reflection upon, patient safety incidents is an important element in developing a culture of safety within practices.

If the Glasgow results are indicative of the level of SEA across the UK then this is a healthy sign of the willingness of GPs and practice teams to engage in the patient safety agenda.

Dr Maureen Baker

Director of Primary Care

National Patient Safety Agency

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