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First year's findings about harm-free patient care published

May 8, 2013: The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) today releases its first publication based on the NHS Safety Thermometer tool, which reports an increase in the percentage of assessed patients who received harm-free care.

The tool has been developed by the HSCIC as part of a wider programme of work involving frontline NHS clinicians and improvement experts and the Department of Health to support patient safety improvement.

It records and measures four types of patient harm (pressure ulcers, falls, urinary tract infections in patients with catheters and new venous thromboembolisms)2 across a broad range of healthcare settings, including nursing homes, hospitals and independent sector care providers.

This new measurement tool is now used by over 600 care providers and offers immediate information for frontline teams so they can review their performance in delivering harm free care. Providers submit assessment data to the HSCIC each month and more than two million patient assessments have been reported since the tool's launch in April 2012.

In April 2013:

  • Almost 190,000 patient assessments were submitted by providers, more than double the number submitted in April 2012 (86,000). Of these, about half were from acute hospital wards, while the remainder were from other care settings.
  • 92.1 per cent of patients assessed received harm-free care, compared to 89.7 per cent in April 2012.
  • Of those patients assessed3, 5.6 per cent had a pressure ulcer, 1 per cent had a fall with harm, 1 per cent had a catheter and a urinary tract infection, and 0.6 per cent had a new venous thromboembolism.

It is hoped that increased participation over the coming months will provide the opportunity to present more detailed findings.

HSCIC Chief Executive Alan Perkins said: "The NHS Safety Thermometer is ground-breaking in that it looks at patient care across a broad range of settings - from residential homes to hospital wards. Today's report reflects the first year's findings of this innovative tool, and it is promising to see that participation has doubled since the tool was launched.

"I would actively encourage care providers to participate. Such high-quality information is vital in giving providers an accurate local picture to help deliver better care, better services and better outcomes for patients."

View the full report at


Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) was established on April 1 2013 as an Executive Non Departmental Public Body (ENDPB). The trusted source of authoritative data and information relating to health and care, HSCIC plays a fundamental role in driving better care, better services and better outcomes for patients.

    It supports the delivery of IT infrastructure, information systems and standards to ensure information flows efficiently and securely across the health and social care system to improve patient outcomes. Its work includes publishing more than 130 statistical publications annually; providing a range of specialist data services; managing informatics projects and programmes and developing and assuring national systems against appropriate contractual, clinical safety and information standards.
  2. These four harms were selected as the focus because they are common, and because there is a clinical consensus that they are largely preventable through appropriate patient care.
  3. A patient may have all, some, one, or none of the harms. Those patients that are assessed as having none of the four harms are recorded as 'harm-free'. Further details of the definitions of harms used in the NHS Safety Thermometer can be found in Appendix 1 of the published report
  4. The NHS Safety Thermometer was launched nationally in April 2012, following extensive local piloting.
  5. Today's findings are based on data collected by care staff, who assess patients in their care settings once a month and submit these results. Submitted data is validated before it is added to the National Safety Thermometer. Invalid data is excluded, and reported in the local data quality report and in the monthly Submission Data Quality Report. Participating organisations are responsible for correcting the errors which are identified in the data quality report, and for re-submitting their corrected data.
  6. Figures are rounded to the nearest 1000. Percentages are rounded to one decimal place.
  7. Today's figures are classed as experimental statistics, which are defined as new official statistics undergoing evaluation. They are published in order to involve users and stakeholders in their development and as a means to build in quality at an early stage.
  8. For media enquires please call 0845 257 6990 or email
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