Intended for healthcare professionals


After the abolition of the National Patient Safety Agency

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 03 November 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c6076
  1. John Scarpello, consultant physician (emeritus)
  1. 1University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust, Stoke on Trent ST4 6QG, UK
  1. john.scarpello{at}

The patient safety incident database must continue as a source of national learning

In July this year, the review of arm’s length bodies announced that the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) is to be abolished.1 The NPSA was established as a special health authority in 2001, with the core function of promoting a culture of reporting and learning from adverse events. The first division of the NPSA, Patient Safety, will move to the new NHS Commissioning Board; the second, the National Clinical Assessment Service, will become self funded; and the third, the National Research Ethics Service, will be considered as part of the review of research regulation. Confidential inquiries will be managed by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership.


The NPSA established the NHS Reporting and Learning System in 2003. It provides a unique national database for patient safety incidents. Healthcare staff report patient safety incidents and concerns to their local organisation, which investigates, but importantly these incidents are also uploaded to the reporting and learning system from hospitals’ and primary care trusts’ risk management systems. The reporting and learning system is now …

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