Patient Safety Incident Response Framework (PSIRF)

The PSIRF has been published by NHS England. It follows the introductory version of the PSIRF, published in 2020 and piloted with 17 early adopter organisations. It will replace the current Serious Incident Framework (2015) in developing and maintaining an effective system for responding to patient safety incidents (PSIs). It represents a fundamental shift in how the NHS responds to PSIs for learning and improvement.

Less prescriptive, the PSIRF intends to support a proportionate approach to investigating PSIs. It makes no distinction between ‘patient safety incidents’ and ‘Serious Incidents’, removing the ‘Serious Incidents’ classification and the threshold for it. The aim of the PSIRF is to ensure that resources allocated to learning are balanced with those needed to deliver improvement. The PSIRF is not a framework which stipulates what is to be investigated. The objectives of the framework are:

  • establishing a co-ordinated and data-driven approach to an organisations PSI response, prioritising compassionate engagement with those affected by the PSI
  • embedding the PSI response within a wider system of improvement
  • prompting a significant cultural shift towards systematic PSI

Through the PSIRF, organisations are required to develop a thorough understanding of their individual patient safety incident profile (collecting information from a range of internal and external resources), ongoing safety actions (in response to recommendations from investigations), as well as establishing programmes of improvement.

What are the requirements for NHS trusts?

The PSIRF is a contractual requirement under the NHS Standard Contract and as such is mandatory for services provided under that contract, including acute, ambulance, mental health, and community healthcare providers. This includes maternity and all specialised services.

Organisations are required to apply and embed the PSIRF through:

  1. a patient safety incident response policy
  2. a patient safety incident response plan
  3. a mechanism to help address inequalities in patient safety

National guidance and tools are available to support organisations to navigate the process of implementation. NHS England have developed a preparation guidance to support implementation of the PSIRF over 12 months from September 2022.

The changes ahead are significant and over the coming weeks and months, Hempsons will be providing further updates, guidance and tools to support the process of understanding, implementing and embedding a new approach to patient safety and learning.

Please contact Liz if you have any questions regarding this update.

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