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WHO welcomes key United Kingdom support for global patient safety

The World Health Organization (WHO) welcomes the announcement by the United Kingdom government that it will donate a total of £25 million (US$ 43 million) to support global efforts to improve patient safety. This donation recognizes the need to take effective, visible and concerted action to reduce the growing number of adverse events in health care and their impact on patients’ lives.

"The United Kingdom's contribution to the WHO World Alliance for Patient Safety is key to helping the Alliance deliver its objectives and build global momentum to improve patient safety," said Dr LEE Jong-wook, WHO Director-General. "This funding will help the Alliance to play a key role in supporting the development of research, delivery capabilities and knowledge to tackle the full range of patient safety issues around the world."

"I am pleased to be able to announce that we are pledging to provide the core support necessary to ensure that the Alliance will be able to deliver its challenging agenda," said Ms Patricia Hewitt, UK Secretary of State for Health, at the Patient Safety Summit in London. "I am confident that this support will provide a solid platform for international work on patient safety and make a tangible difference to the safety of health care for millions of people worldwide. It shows the commitment of our country not just to improve patient safety within the National Health Services, but to contribute to the growing international patient safety movement."

The World Alliance for Patient Safety was launched in October 2004 to raise awareness and political commitment to improve the safety of patient care and to facilitate the development of patient safety policy and practice in all WHO Member States.

The UK contribution will be used to build on existing efforts and work by the Alliance in six major areas and to develop new work programmes:

  • Global Patient Safety Challenge for 2005-2006, "Clean Care is Safer Care";
  • patient empowerment and involvement, "Patients for Patient Safety";
  • developing a patient safety taxonomy;
  • research in the field of patient safety;
  • solutions to reduce the risks of health care, "From Information to Action" Reporting and learning to advance patient safety.

"The UK is committed to doing more to support the efforts of the Alliance to improve patient safety around the world," said Sir Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer of England and chair of the World Alliance for Patient Safety. "Over the years ahead lives will be saved, risks to patients reduced, patients will become more empowered and many lessons will be learned as a result of the actions of the Alliance."

"Through this generous contribution, the UK is demonstrating innovative leadership and compassion for patients," said Mrs Susan Sheridan, leader of the 'Patients for Patient Safety' programme which is instrumental in putting patients at the heart of the Alliance's work. Patients from around the world are meeting in London today, to develop action plans for global patient safety champions. This first Alliance workshop is being run in conjunction with the EU Summit on Patient Safety. "Patients have a tremendous opportunity to contribute to a safer health care system by playing a central role as partners in patient safety," said Mrs Sheridan.

At the Summit today, the World Alliance for Patient Safety is also launching the new Draft Guidelines for Adverse Event Reporting and Learning Systems. The guidelines are being made available worldwide to facilitate the development of new and improved reporting systems for patient safety . "Ultimately, it is the action we take in response to reporting, not reporting itself that leads to change" said Professor Lucian Leape from the Harvard School of Public Health, who has led the development of these guidelines. The guidelines will undergo modification over time as experience accumulates.

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For more information contact:

Dr Agnès Leotsakos
World Alliance for Patient Safety
Mobile phone: +41 79 221 7802
E-mail: leotsakosa@who.int

Patient Safety: A Global Agenda