Patient safety

Patients for Patient Safety Workshop

20-21 May 2008
London, United Kingdom

National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) and Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) in collaboration with PFPS


Comments from participants

“I feel good. I feel powerful. I feel important.”

“Marvellous speakers!”

A call for volunteers was launched by the charity AvMA (Action against Medical Accidents) in partnership with the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) at a meeting for patients and healthcare professionals with an interest in patient safety, in March. Twenty two people attended a two day Induction Workshop in London on 20-21 May as part of this first wave of in-country Patients For Patient Safety Champions selected to represent England and Wales. Additionally, ten healthcare professionals from Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) in England and 1 member of the Patient Safety Action Team in Wales joined the Workshop on day two.

Patients, their carers or patient advocates met to share their personal stories and experience of what happens when things go wrong in the care provided by the NHS (National Health Service). Common themes emerged around errors in treatment, diagnosis and care, and many people expressed dismay at the culture of denial which persists among healthcare professionals in the aftermath of a serious incident. Much discussion featured on the failures in policy and process to address the issues and prevent similar incidents and accidents from recurring. In future, through this initiative led by AvMA after their successful two year pilot project, Patient Safety Champions will be supported to provide the patients’ perspective in improving patient safety at all levels; locally, regionally and nationally, throughout England and Wales.


The work of the WHO World Alliance for Patients Safety was introduced by Martin Fletcher, Chief Executive of the NPSA and further information was presented by Rachel Heath, the International Patients for Patient Safety Project Manager. Suzette Woodward, Director, NPSA, provided an overview of the structure of healthcare organisations across England and Wales and set the context for discussions around how Champions can be involved. Anna Allford, as the Project Manager for Patients for Patient Safety in England and Wales outlined the project and stated that AvMA already has a network of about 150 individuals who have experience of medical harm, or an interest in improving safety for patients. It is anticipated that their concerns and issues will also contribute to the broader agenda around patient safety and be highlighted through the work of the Champions.

International Patient Safety Champions, Nagwa Metwally (Egypt) and Rebecca O’Malley (Ireland) gave presentations on day two about their own involvement in this global movement: their reasons for becoming Champions; their work to date; and their hopes and aspirations for the future. Participants said that “the inspiration taken from personal experiences” contributed to their overall satisfaction.

Peter Walsh, Chief Executive of AvMA, together with Anna facilitated the Workshop sessions, ensuring time in small groups and partnership working was incorporated in addition to the full group meeting. This mix worked well and allowed the Champions to open the dialogue with their healthcare professionals and policy maker partners. The positive energy and enthusiasm coupled with the commitment to openness and partnership by those who attended the Workshop ensured its success. People felt that even those who have been speaking on behalf of others already in the area of patient safety now had a “title and a framework in which to operate.”