Established in 2002, the Imperial College Dr Foster Unit sits within the Department of Primary Care and Public Health in the School of Public Health at Imperial College London.

Building on the work from team members' involvement in two public inquiries (paediatric cardiac surgery death rates at the Bristol Royal Infirmary and the crimes of Harold Shipman) our initial objective was to develop methods to explain variations in mortality rates in acute hospitals across England. We developed a system by which raw, uncleaned hospital episode data are cleaned and processed monthly, turned into measures of hospital performance such as death rates, and presented back to hospitals to help them drive up standards. We now deliver a large variety of analyses related to variations in the safety and quality of healthcare.

Our research is funded through a variety of grants, with key support through the NIHR Imperial Biomedical Research Centre (BRC). We also receive NIHR funding for our work with the Patient Safety Translational Research Centre (PSTRC) and the Health Protection Research Unit in Healthcare Associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance (NIHR HPRU HCAI and AMR) and to investigate readmissions in heart failure and chronic lung disease. NIHR has also funded projects involving the mortality alerts the Unit sends out each month and obstetric care.