Patient safety improvements

20,000 fewer deaths than expected since safety programme launched

New figures published today show that since the launch of the Scottish Patient Safety Programme in 2007, there has been over 20,000 fewer deaths than expected in hospitals across Scotland.

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

In the first eight years of the world-leading Scottish Patient Safety Programme, hospital mortality has fallen at twenty-four of twenty-nine participating hospitals, and mortality has reduced for all types of hospital admissions.

The Scottish Patient Safety Programme, led by Healthcare Improvement Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government, was established in 2007 and is a national programme aiming to improve the safety and reliability of healthcare across Scotland. From an initial focus on acute hospitals, work now includes safety improvement programmes for maternity and children’s care, mental health, medicines and primary care.

Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Shona Robison, said:

“Scotland was the first country in the world to implement a national patient safety programme and is the only UK country publishing and driving improvement in our NHS through the use of mortality data in this way.

“These latest figures mark the end of the first phase of the Scottish Patient Safety Programme, showing the impressive results it has achieved in eight years. With a 16.5% fall in hospital mortality, equating to 20,000 less than expected deaths, it shows why Scotland is considered a world-leader in delivering effective and safe care for patients.

“It is an even greater achievement when set against a backdrop of our NHS treating more people, with more complex needs, than ever before. That is why we are investing more than ever in our health and social care system, with this year’s budget totalling a record £13 billion. This additional funding will allow us to further drive improvement right across the system, building on the important successes we have achieved to date.”

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

“The vast majority of patients who come through Scotland’s NHS every day are cared for safely and successfully by our hard working frontline staff. Across our NHS, these staff have put patient safety at the heart of everything they do. And this culture is helping the NHS to be open and honest where care falls short of what we expect – to ensure we learn the right lessons.

“The Scottish Patient Safety Programme is now much bigger than when we started, expanding beyond big hospitals to maternity services, ‎community services and mental health.

“The acute hospital version of the programme continues as well, and is tackling new harms which patients face such as urinary catheter infections, acute kidney injury and ‎deterioration.

“We’ve made much progress and we are now considering how we can go further. Healthcare Improvement Scotland have been consulting on the next phase of the SPSP and we will set out our next steps in the summer.”

Joanne Matthews, Head of Safety for Healthcare Improvement Scotland, said:

“We are pleased that the work of the Scottish Patient Safety Programme has contributed to today’s positive announcement regarding mortality rates in Scotland.

“The impact of the Scottish Patient Safety Programme is not only evident in improved safety and a better patient experience, but also in improved efficiency across the NHS in Scotland.

“Today’s achievement would not be possible without the enthusiasm and hard work of healthcare professionals across Scotland who have shown such commitment to the aims of the programme since it was formed.

“Whilst good progress has been made, we continue to be committed to ensuring that more people using health and social care services in Scotland are safe from harm.”

Notes to editors

The Scottish Patient Safety Programme (SPSP) is led and co-ordinated nationally, supporting implementation within NHS boards through local teams within hospitals, GP practices, mental health inpatients units and community pharmacies.

The programme is delivered through a collaborative approach based on the Breakthrough Series Collaborative Model. Read more online:

HSMR data is used by hospitals participating in the Scottish Patient Safety Programme to monitor their progress against an improvement aim of 20% between October-December 2007 and October -December 2015.

HSMR is measured quarterly and is the ratio of the number of deaths in hospital within a given time period (observed deaths) to the number of deaths that might be predicted if the hospital had the same death rates as a reference population.

Today’s published figures are available at:


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