Publish date: 18 October 2022

UCLH is to host to a new collaboration researching patient safety, after being awarded £3million in funding from the National Institute for Health and Care Research.

The NIHR Central London Patient Safety Research Collaboration (PSRC) aims to improve safety in Surgical, Perioperative, Acute and Critical care (SPACE) services, which treat more than 25 million NHS patients annually. Perioperative care is care given at and around the time of surgery.

The work will be led by UCLH consultant and UCL academic Professor Ramani Moonesinghe, who is also National Clinical Director for Critical and Perioperative Care at NHS England.

International estimates suggest that of 421 million hospitalisations worldwide annually, there are 42.7 million adverse events or unsafe experiences, making avoidable harm the 14th leading cause of death and serious illness.

Amongst the highest risk clinical settings are SPACE services because of the seriousness of the patients’ conditions and the complex nature of clinical decision making.

Further risks arise at the transitions of care between SPACE services and other parts of the health and social care system. For example, acutely unwell patients may first see their GP or call an ambulance. The speed and accuracy with which acute and/or severe illness is recognised before patients reach hospital determine how quickly the right treatments can be provided and further harm avoided. Patients discharged from hospital, particularly after acute or critical care admissions, or major surgery, are at risk of relapse or complications, which may cause further harm and lead to readmission.

The research team led by UCLH and UCL will develop and evaluate new treatments and care pathways for SPACE services.  This will include new interventions such as surgical and anaesthetic techniques, and new approaches to predicting and detecting patient deterioration. They will also help the NHS become safer for patients through the development of innovative approaches to organisational learning, and to how clinical evidence is generated. The PSRC’s learning academy will support the next generation of patient safety researchers through a comprehensive programme of funding, mentoring and peer support.

The team includes frontline clinicians, policy makers and world-leading academics across a range of scientific disciplines including social and data science, mechanical and software engineering. Patients and the public representing diverse backgrounds are key partners in the collaboration.

Professor Moonesinghe said: “We have a great multidisciplinary, multiprofessional team ready to deliver a truly innovative programme to improve patient safety in these high risk clinical areas. As a uniquely rich research environment, UCLH and UCL are well placed to lead this work, and we are looking forward to collaborating  with clinicians and patients across the country to ensure impact for the whole population which the NHS serves.”