Patient safety aim met 15 months early

7,800 fewer than expected deaths.

New figures show that Scotland’s world leading patient safety programme has cut hospital mortality by over 10 per cent across the period – meeting a key aim 15 months early.

The latest Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratios (HSMR) show there were 7,800 fewer than expected deaths between the first quarter of 2014 and the third quarter of 2017 – a drop of 10.6 per cent.

The fall is being attributed to the Scottish Patient Safety Programme which  works to reduce harm and improve the safety and reliability of healthcare.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said:

“Thanks to a decade of hard work by the Scottish Patient Safety Programme, we’ve met this key aim over a year earlier than planned. But most importantly, it means more lives have been saved that may otherwise have been lost.

“This comes at a time when our NHS is treating more people, with more complex needs. While we want to go further, it shows that we continue to lead the way on patient safety, with other countries looking to learn from our approach.”

Professor Jason Leitch, National Clinical Director for NHS Scotland, said:

“These figures show the unprecedented success of the Scottish Patient Safety Programme – now in its tenth year of operation. I want to thank the thousands of staff across the country who have delivered that with professionalism, dedication and commitment.

“These figures are just the tip of the iceberg, representing reductions in infections, falls, and many other harms. We should celebrate those achievements, and the culture of openness and learning they have enabled.

“As our safety programme has grown, it has continued to improve the safety of healthcare wherever it is delivered, ensuring better outcomes for some of our most vulnerable people. That will continue as the programme expands to care homes and other sectors.”

Robbie Pearson, Chief Executive of Healthcare Improvement Scotland, said:

"We welcome the news today that the hospital mortality ratio in Scotland is continuing to fall.  It is an important measure in stimulating reflection on the quality and safety of patient care.

"Today's news also highlights the progress that has been made by initiatives such as our Scottish Patient Safety Programme, which is currently celebrating the 10th anniversary of its launch. Whilst the news is a testament to the hard work that goes on day to day by those delivering care who have embraced a patient safety culture, there is still much work to be done, especially in a constantly changing environment. "


The latest HSMR quarterly publication is available online. The Scotland-wide figure now stands at 0.86, and in the last quarter (July – September 2017) has seen more than 1,000 fewer than expected deaths.

 The Scottish Patient Safety Programme (SPSP) launched in January 2008 and was the first patient safety programme to be introduced nationally anywhere in the world. It is led by Healthcare Improvement Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government.

The original aim of the Scottish Patient Safety Programme was to reduce hospital mortality by 15% by December 2012, subsequently extended to a 20% reduction by December 2015.

Between October-December 2007 and October-December 2015, hospital mortality fell by 16.5%, equating to 20,000 fewer deaths than expected.

Following changes to the methodology and baseline of the HSMR, a revised target was introduced to reduce hospital mortality by a further 10% by quarter ending December 2018.


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