Global state of patient safety report

Patient safety has been a long-standing priority for the Institute of Global Health Innovation. The NIHR North West London Patient Safety Research Collaboration conducts research in the delivery of safe and quality healthcare, with a focus on the UK.

In addition, the Centre for Health Policy is conducting a programme of work in global patient safety.

To achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of providing universal health coverage, it is essential that this care is safe and of good quality in order to improve global health and prevent avoidable harm. 

We are committed to working with colleagues from a range of countries and organisations to improve the safety of healthcare on a global scale, particularly in low-and middle-income countries. We are working collaboratively to improve research capacity, leadership, and education and training for patient safety.

Our work

We have a number of ongoing workstreams and projects all contributing to our goal of improving global patient safety and are working with a range of stakeholders to achieve this.

Our work

World Patient Safety Day

The Imperial Queen's Tower lit up in orangeWorld Patient Safety Day was established at the 72nd World Health Assembly in May 2019. Its aim is to increase public engagement and emphasise the importance of prioritising patient safety on the global agenda, while encouraging action.

On 17 September 2019, together with the Department of Health and Social Care and the World Health Organization, we held the first-ever conference marking World Patient Safety Day. Our esteemed speakers included Dr Aidan Fowler, National Director of Patient Safety and Jeremy Hunt, former UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

In 2020, our virtual conference focused on health worker safety alongside its impact on patient safety. Frontline staff, many of whom were from an ethnic minority background, shared their perspectives on working during COVID-19 and staff-led initiatives to support safety and wellbeing. We published a commentary paper for World Patient Safety Day highlighting the importance of keeping health workers safe so that they can keep patients safe.

For 2021, our event focused on ‘Safe Maternal and Newborn Care’, with the aim of increasing awareness of maternal and newborn safety and promoting safe and respectful childbirth. You can watch the event recording here.

Every year, Imperial College London marks the occasion by illuminating the Queen’s Tower on the university’s South Kensington campus in orange. We join many global sites in symbolising the importance of patient safety in efforts to achieve universal health coverage.

Health Worker Safety

COVID-19 has had a significant effect on the safety of health care workers (HCWs) globally. These challenges can be seen globally, but are most pronounced in low resource settings. Urgent research is needed to bridge the evidence gap around how best to support HCWs with the physical, psychological, behavioural and social repercussions of working at the frontline of a pandemic. We have published a commentary paper highlighting the importance of frontline and local leaders in implementing initiatives to improve HCWs health and wellbeing.  

We’re also conducting multi-health system research to understand the facilitators and barriers healthcare organisations and leadership face in implementing interventions designed to support their staff. We’ve already carried out a study with organisational leadership, and are now looking to conduct further research in this area across medical specialities with frontline staff.

To find out more about our work in this area, contact Niki O’Brien, Policy Fellow in Global Health at


Group of people standingIn 2019, the Patient Safety Translational Research Centre at IGHI was selected as the academic partner for the Global Patient Safety Collaborative (GPSC), an initiative established by the joint efforts of the World Health Organization and the UK Government. 

The GPSC is aligned around three strategic objectives: education and training, research and leadership. The GPSC works to develop global resources for patient safety, alongside currently supporting four focus countries: Kenya, India, Pakistan and Mongolia. The GPSC is currently working on a range of activities to scale up global action on patient safety. These include research partnerships, a leadership competency framework, global priorities for patient safety research and revision of the WHO Patient Safety Curriculum Guide

We are also holding a webinar and capacity building series. So far we have run sessions on several topics including global developments in patient safety, clinical aspects of patient safety during COVID-19 and reporting and learning systems.

Find out more here.