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National Patient Safety Agency

Patient Safety: Forewarned is forearmed

27 May 2008

The National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) has launched a Foresight Training Resource Pack to improve the safety of patients treated in the NHS.


The Foresight Training Resource Pack has been developed to support nurses and midwives, working in all care settings to improve awareness of the factors that combine to increase the likelihood of patient safety incidents; to increase local learning through sharing experiences and to improve understanding of “risk prone situations” and situations that could be considered as a “near miss”. 


Joanna Parker, Head of Primary Care, Ambulances and Specialist Programmes at the NPSA said “Foresight is the ability to identify, respond to, and recover from the initial indications that a patient safety incident could take place. It involves front-line healthcare staff recognising the potential safety risks in the healthcare system, and intervening to prevent an incident. When staff identify and bridge such safety gaps in the healthcare system they are demonstrating their foresight ability. NHS staff often use foresight skills instinctively outside of a formal risk assessment process. This work aims to highlight the vital role healthcare staff have in predicting and where possible mitigating the risk of patient safety incidents. It also provides a vocabulary to discuss this important issue in particular with new staff who are unfamiliar with the technique.”


Dr. Peter Carter, General Secretary & Chief Executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Frontline staff have the potential to recognise and respond to events before they develop into harmful incidents. Foresight training will help them develop and enhance their skills in identifying the components of risk situations.  The RCN is therefore delighted to support these materials and to encourage nurses and their colleagues to use them effectively.”


Foresight Training helps healthcare staff develop and practise the skills needed to identify situations when a patient safety incident is more likely to occur. The Foresight Training Resource Pack contains a range of training scenarios, paper and video based, and supporting materials for use by a facilitator. The scenarios prompt participants to think of the factors that contribute to a patient safety incident. Each scenario has a set of detailed ‘foresight factors’ to encourage discussion and learning, with the intention that participants will be more attuned to seeing these factors in the future, before a patient safety incident occurs.


The training materials can be mixed and matched to suit local needs. Some of the training materials are video-based and others are paper-based. Each training exercise takes from 25 minutes to one hour to deliver. Foresight Training has been specifically designed to be flexible, so that it can be used in team meetings, handovers, mandatory training sessions and stand alone sessions, facilitated by members of staff.




 Notes to editors:

  1. For further information please contact Senior Communications Manager, Nick Rigg on 0207 927 9362 or nick.rigg@npsa.nhs.uk

  2. The National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) helps the NHS learn from its mistakes so that it can improve patient safety. It does this by collecting reports on errors and other things that go wrong in healthcare so that it can recognise national trends and introduce practical ways of preventing problems. It does not investigate individual cases or complaints, but it does listen to public concerns and uses what is said to improve safety.

  3. The Foresight Training Resource Pack is available here.