Starting in 2019, September 17th is now recognised across the globe as World Patient Safety Day. By shining a spotlight on this important topic, the World Patient Safety Day campaign will increase awareness of patient safety and encourage improvements in care.

Medicines use is one area of healthcare that has the potential to cause serious patient harm, and in Surrey Heartlands we are already developing a programme of work to make medicines use safer for the people of Surrey.

No one should be harmed in health care, and yet, every day, thousands of patients suffer avoidable harm while receiving care. Sometimes, those harms are caused by the use of a medicine. Medicines are the most common treatments in modern healthcare, and almost everyone, at some point, will take a medicine to treat or prevent an illness. Medicines play a huge role in managing disease and increasing the duration of our lives, but there is also a risk of errors occurring when medicines are used. By reducing medication errors, we can have an important impact on improving patient safety.

This is why we are developing the Surrey Heartlands Medicines Safety Programme. Adopting an integrated care approach– that is, working together as a partnership of health and care organisations – gives us a unique opportunity to make changes in medicines practice that are widely adopted and have maximum impact.

The Medicines Safety Programme is part of Surrey Heartlands’ investment in safe, high quality patient care. The programme is kicking off this autumn with a suite of engagement activities, to gain valuable insights from our patients, the public, and health and care staff across the system into where we should focus our improvement efforts.

This includes a survey of our local Citizen Panel about how they use and understand their medicines, so that we can plan ways to enhance people’s awareness and knowledge about their medicines and how to manage them safely. The Citizen Panel is an online resident panel made up of a representative sample of people who live in Surrey, and forms an important part of Surrey Heartlands’ approach to engagement in service development. More information about our citizen engagement programme is available on our website

Accessing the Citizens Panel to explore patient and public experiences of medicines safety issues is a key first step on our journey to making medicines use safer in Surrey. Both on and beyond 17th September, we will be working hard locally to Speak up for Patient Safety!