Organisations should no longer collect ‘classic’ or ‘next generation (Medication, Mental Health, Maternity and C&YPS)’ Safety Thermometer data or submit it to the Safety Thermometer portal. Information on replacement metrics drawn from routinely collected data can be found on the Patient Safety Measurement Unit webpage.

The Safety Thermometer, launched in 2010, was one of the largest and longest-lasting data collection exercises in NHS history. It had a powerful impact in its early years. But more recent evaluations, research and feedback have shown that the data was incomplete, and it was no longer able to support improvement in the intended way. Because of this, new data sources were explored that could take the burden of data collection away from clinical staff and support new improvement initiatives. Ending the Safety Thermometer were publicly consulted on in 2019/20 as part of proposed changes to the NHS Standard Contract. The response supported ending the national collection of Safety Thermometer data from April 2020, and using alternative data sources to continue improving pressure ulcer prevention, falls prevention, VTE prevention and prevention of healthcare-associated infection.

All data collection for the ‘classic’ Safety Thermometer and the ‘next generation’ Safety Thermometers will therefore stop after March 2020. Plans for nationally-produced replacement data to support improvement drawn from routinely collected sources will be provided or signposted on the NHS England and NHS Improvement Patient Safety Measurement Unit webpage as soon as possible.

Trust Profile

South West Yorkshire Partnership (SWYPFT) are a specialist NHS Foundation Trust that provides community, mental health and learning disability services to the people of Barnsley, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield. The Trust also provides some medium secure (forensic) services to the whole of Yorkshire and the Humber.


Speciality care data: From Classic to Next Generation Safety Thermometer

SWYPFT had implemented NHS Safety Thermometer "Classic", which allows teams to measure harm and the proportion of patients that are 'harm free' from pressure ulcers, falls, urine infections (in patients with a catheter) and venous thromboembolism. Whilst they had found many benefits to measuring harm with the Safety Thermometer Classic, they also found that several patients who were admitted to the older person's unit had acquired one or more of the measured physical harms in the community, and there was a need for a data which could reflect patient safety in a specific, mental health care context.

When the Mental Health Safety Thermometer was piloted, SWYPFT were eager to try the tool, which has been devised for speciality mental health trusts and units, enabling teams to measure harm and the proportion of patients that are 'harm free' from self-harm, psychological safety, violence and aggression, omissions of medication and restraint (inpatients only).


Mental Health Safety Thermometer CQUIN

Implementation of the Mental Health Safety Thermometer at SWYPFT has been in conjunction with a CQUIN proposal to use the MHST as a data source to measure and reduce harms from in-patient medication omissions, with the roll-out of the MHST competed in Quarter 1 and 2, and a focus on a 5% reduction in medication ommissions for in patient units in Quarters 3 and 4

So how did they implement it?



Going forward with the Mental Health Safety Thermometer

Richard Watterston, Safety Thermometer Implementation Lead at SWYPFT referred to the measures within the Mental Health Safety Thermometer as "meaningful within the Trust and outside of the Trust" - That they are specific and relevant to the mental health care delivered to patients at the Trust, they have enabled the Trust to understand variation and improve areas, and the data collected is viewed by staff as meaningful and useful.

The Management of Violence and Aggression team have found particular benefit in the restraint measures. This team, made up of Nurses with specialist training in situation control and restraint, are experts on the legalities and techniques of appropriate restraint and control and deliver training to ward staff in this subject. The data from the Mental Health Safety Thermometer is helping them to investigate how regularly restraint is being used, in which wards, and from this whether there any patterns which might point to potential areas for improvement or focus areas for training sessions. This data is also now regularly coming up in discussion at the Nursing Directors' meetings.


Now that the Mental Health Safety Thermometer is implemented, SWYPFT will use this data to investigate medication omissions and why they occur. They will then be working with their Chief Pharmacists to implement a series of service improvements aimed at reducing the number of missed medications, using the Safety Thermometer to measure improvement.

We look forward to returning to SWYPFT in the future, following this work, to find out more about how the Mental Health Safety Thermometer helped them towards achieving those aims.