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National Patient Safety Agency

Lord Darzi welcomes new tool to make surgery safer in the UK and across the world

24 June 2008


Surgeon and Health Minister Lord Darzi will be the lead speaker on Wednesday 25 June as the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) hosts the UK participation in the global launch of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) new safety checklist for surgical teams to use in operating theatres, as part of a major drive to make surgery safer around the world.


The WHO Safe Surgery Saves Lives initiative began in September 2006 and has seen more than 200 national and international medical societies and ministries of health working together to reduce avoidable deaths and complications in surgical care. 


The NPSA has supported the WHO initiative and is working with key organisations representing surgeons, anaesthetists and nurses to take forward work in the UK.


Between October 2006 to September 2007, the NPSA received over 128,000 reports of patient safety incidents from surgical specialities.  These incidents vary hugely from incorrect treatment or procedure to misplaced patient notes. Not all of these incidents are serious but some have led to patient harm or death and many could have been prevented.


Speaking about the launch of the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist, Martin Fletcher, Chief Executive at the NPSA, said: “Our data show that the safety of surgical care is an important issue. We are delighted to be working with surgical professionals to ensure that this initiative is implemented widely throughout the country.”


Lord Darzi, who was involved in the development of the WHO checklist and also led the UK pilot for the WHO initiative at St Mary’s Hospital, part of the newly formed Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “I feel confident that the introduction of the surgical safety checklist will improve the safety of patients who undergo surgery in the UK. Our pilot study in the UK and the seven other pilot sites worldwide indicate that the checklist will improve standards of care. We now need to ensure that surgical teams are supported fully with the implementation of the checklist and all surgical staff understand the importance of the initiative.”


Jane Reid, President of the Association for Perioperative Practice, commented:  "We want to make surgical safety everyone's highest priority and include practical suggestions to achieve just that. Our membership represents all those working in operating theatres and so we particularly welcome the emphasis on encouraging a culture of safety embracing the whole surgical team."




Notes for editors:


  1. Media enquiries to Amelia Lyons in the NPSA Communications Department on 020 7927 9580 or out of hours: 07500 224 240 or amelia.lyons@npsa.nhs.uk.

  2. There is limited space for press to attend the event at 18.00 in London. Please call Amelia Lyons on 0207 927 9580 or 07500 224 240 to book a space.

  3. The WHO Safe Surgery Saves Lives initiative has engaged more than 200 national and international medical societies and ministries of health in a collaborative effort to meet the goal of reducing avoidable deaths and complications in surgical care. The WHO Surgical Safety Checklist identifies a set of surgical safety standards that can be applied in all countries and health settings.

  4. The National Patient Safety Agency encompasses the National Research Ethics Service, Patient Safety Division and the National Clinical Assessment Service. Our vision is to lead and contribute to improved, safe patient care by informing, supporting and influencing healthcare individuals and organisations. Each division works within its sphere of expertise to improve patient outcomes.

  5. The Association for Perioperative Practice (AfPP) was established as the National Association of Theatre Nurses, known as NATN, in 1964.  It is a registered charity working to enhance skills and knowledge within operating departments, associated areas and sterile services departments.  It aims to enhance the quality of care in the NHS and the independent sector throughout the UK.