The patient safety movement was first launched 15 years ago with the publication of the Institute of Medicine’s To Err is Human report, which challenged the belief that harm only resulted from incompetence or negligence. It also highlighted that errors resulting in harm were far more common than previously thought.

Today we know much more about the principles underscoring the delivery of safe and effective care, and have accomplished some great feats in reducing patient harm. We now know that manifestations of harm are the result of successive errors along the health service pathway. We also know that it takes more than the heroism of individuals to deliver safe care – it takes a system-wide culture that values and prioritises learning and transparency.

Patient safety remains central to the work of the NIHR Imperial PSTRC, which is funded by the National Institute for Health Research and is a collaboration between Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. As part of the Centre’s commitment to disseminate the excellent work across its seven themes of research – safety information, design and technology, patient engagement, teamwork, economics, safe systems, and incident reporting – and to advance the overall policy agenda in patient safety, the Centre hosted and co-hosted two conferences on March 8th and March 9th 2016. Held at the Royal Society in London, both conferences gathered senior stakeholders – renowned researchers, policymakers and clinical managers – to discuss the latest research, past experience, and strategies to improve patient safety in the future.