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.

The quest for ‘‘harm free’ care is new and can only be delivered through setting up measurement systems which prompt your frontline teams to think differently - measuring harm from the patients’ perspective and not from the healthcare providers.

In all healthcare systems we count the number of pressure ulcers, falls etc and on the diagram below this is like counting downwards in vertical columns, for example, two of five patients had a pressure ulcer (40%).

In ‘harm free’ care we want to change this and start counting patients ‘protected from harm’, in the pressure ulcer example this would be three of five patients (60%) if we count in the usual way.  We can raise the bar even further by starting to count across at the level of the individual patient to determine how many patients had none of the four harms i.e. were harm free from these conditions (harm free composite).

To explain this further, in the example below, out of five patients, only two, patients three and four (highlighted in blue) were protected from all four harms.