Imperial College London

Imperial partners with World Health Organization to transform patient safety


A photograph of St Mary's Hospital with an ambulance outside

Imperial College London will partner with the World Health Organization to make healthcare safer for patients around the world.

The College’s Institute of Global Health Innovation (IGHI) has been chosen as a partner for the recently-launched Global Patient Safety Collaborative (GPSC), an alliance between the WHO and the UK Government.

This initiative aims to bring patient safety to the top of the global health agenda, with a specific focus on low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), by training and equipping the next generation of leaders in patient safety. It will also push for greater coordination between countries by disseminating and promoting uptake of proven solutions for safer care. 

"We are thrilled for this opportunity that will inspire, train and equip the next generation of global leaders in patient safety." Prof Darzi Co-Director, IGHI

Through innovative programmes of education and research, researchers led by the Imperial NIHR Patient Safety Translational Research Centre (PSTRC) will work with the GPSC to train and develop leaders in the field of patient safety. New leaders will then be equipped with the knowledge and skills to train others in healthcare systems around the world. The programmes aim to increase the essential capacity needed to strengthen expertise in the field and improve the safety of healthcare worldwide.

Professor the Lord Ara Darzi, Co-Director of Imperial’s IGHI, said: “Improving the safety of care is of paramount importance if we are to achieve the ambitious target of universal health coverage, where all people have the basic right of access to the health services they need.

“Through this collaboration we can accelerate essential progress in patient safety that brings us closer to attaining international goals to develop safe and universal healthcare. We are thrilled for this opportunity that will inspire, train and equip the next generation of global leaders in patient safety.”

Creating crucial capacity

Partnering with the NIHR Imperial PSTRC, IGHI will work with the WHO to develop and deliver capacity building programmes that focus on research, leadership and training in patient safety.

Once established, the proposed Patient Safety Leadership Academy will serve as a virtual hub for education in patient safety, equipping future leaders with the foundations of safer care delivery through a nine-month online learning programme.

A further educational programme that builds on the Academy will also be launched. With an international focus, this Foundational Training in patient safety will teach trainees the essential strategies needed for the successful implementation of patient safety initiatives.

The final component aims to boost the number of researchers in the field of patient safety through an initiative that will identify priority areas where research has the potential to make the greatest impact to patients and health services. This will also seek to strengthen the international patient safety research community by promoting cross-border collaboration and connecting institutions around the world so that they can share their evidence and best practices.

Towards safer care for all

The partnership builds on IGHI’s expertise in research and education in this critical field, delivered through the NIHR Imperial PSTRC. The Centre – a joint collaboration between Imperial College London and Imperial College NHS Healthcare Trust – has already spent a number of years working with the WHO to better understand priorities for health and care safety in LMICs.

Now the Centre will work with the GPSC to achieve its strategic goals through these three novel programmes, under the direction of Dr Mike Durkin, former UK national director for patient safety.

The collaboration will be chaired by Lord Darzi, who is globally renowned for his contributions to patient safety. Lord Darzi was one of the international team who pioneered the WHO Safe Surgery Checklist, which was mandated for use in NHS Trusts in England in 2009; a simple tool to prevent errors in the operating theatre. As Director of the PSTRC, Lord Darzi continues to drive high-impact research in patient safety with the long-term vision of enabling the delivery of safer care for all.



Justine Alford

Justine Alford
Institute of Global Health Innovation

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