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National Patient Safety Agency
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Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Find answers to the most common questions. Click on the links below to go directly to a specific question.

 

  1. How safe is the NHS?
  2. Why can't the NPSA investigate my case?
  3. How can I complain about my treatment or ask for an investigation?
  4. How does the NPSA keep my information private?
  5. How does sharing my experience help make the NHS safer for others?
  6. How long will it take to report an incident to the NPSA?
  7. Are there other ways I can get in touch instead of using the internet?
  8. Can I look at the questions before I start filling in the reporting form?
  9. How secure is it to contact the NPSA using the internet?
  10. How do I find out more about the NPSA or get involved in its work?

 

 

1 How safe is the NHS?

Every day more than a million people are treated safely by the NHS. But occasionally things go wrong, no matter how dedicated and professional the staff. It is estimated that something goes wrong for about ten percent of people treated in an NHS hospital. That's about 900,000 people a year in England. About half of these incidents could probably have been prevented.


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2 Why can't the NPSA investigate my case?

We don't have official powers to investigate individual cases or deal with complaints about the NHS organisation that provides your care. But there are other organisations that can help if you have a complaint or would like to request an investigation. See Q3 below.

We don't keep information identifying individuals because we want to help the NHS learn from its mistakes by looking at why things have gone wrong, rather than trying to blame or punish individuals. We don't keep the names of either patients or healthcare staff.

We hope this anonymity will encourage everyone to tell us when things go wrong.


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3 How can I complain about my treatment or ask for an investigation?

The organisations that can help if you have a complaint or would like to request an investigation are provided in Make a complaint.


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4 How does the NPSA keep my information private?

Your information is used to try and make the NHS safer. We won't pass on or sell your details to anyone else.

In order to identify which problems happen most often, we collect together all the information people have sent us. The data is then kept in a secure database on our own computer network. We analyse this information to look for national trends and patterns that affect the safety of patients in the NHS.

Any information we publish will have all the identifying information removed.

If you contact us to help with our work or to ask about a particular service we offer, we may use the information to tailor content to your interests or keep you informed about the services we offer. We'll keep this information for as long as you want to carry on using a specific service. We won't contact you to promote anything.

For more information, please see our Privacy policy.


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5 How does sharing my experience help make the NHS safer for others?

A similar problem as yours could happen again and harm other people. We look at all the information we receive and then work out ways of stopping the same problems happening again. We're also interested if you have any ideas about how the problem could have been prevented.

For example, patients have helped us find ways of reducing the risk of taking too much methotrexate. This is a drug for people with rheumatoid arthritis that should only be taken once a week. Some people have died because they took this drug every day by mistake. We've published patient information to tell people about the risks, and we're also working with the drug manufacturers to redesign the packaging.


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6 How long will it take to report an incident to the NPSA?

It depends on how much information you want to tell us, the form shouldn't take more than about half an hour to fill in.

As a security feature, if you leave the form alone for four hours, the page will close down. You'll lose any information you entered.

Go to Report an incident to access the reporting form


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7 Are there other ways I can get in touch instead of using the internet?

Yes. Below is a list of ways you can contact us. Please use whichever method you prefer. However, one of the benefits of using our electronic reporting form is that you can tell us about your experience in your own words as this will be the information we store. We can also analyse this information more effectively than if it is reported by phone, letter or email.

By Telephone

0800 015 2536.

By email

enquiries@npsa.nhs.uk

Write

The Public Enquiry Manager
National Patient Safety Agency
4-8 Maple Street
London
W1T 5HD

Fax

Fax the Public Enquiry Manager, on 0207 927 9501. To make sure the right person gets your fax, please write 'Public Enquiry Manager' at the top of the first page.

If you'd like to know the kind of information we need, you can take a look at the questions we ask on the online form.


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8 Can I look at the questions before I start filling in the reporting form?

Yes. The following link will take you to a list of the questions. Preview the reporting form questions


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9 How secure is it to contact the NPSA using the internet?

Very secure. There are secure connections between your browser and our web site. And we use firewalls and a secure database.

To find out more please see our Security details


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10 How do I find out more about the NPSA or get involved in its work?

Involving patients in our work can help us make the NHS safer for everyone. You can become involved by:

  • subscribing to our electronic newsletter
  • expressing an interest in helping with a particular project.

 

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