Scottish Patient Safety Programme in Primary Care

Scotland’s Patient Safety Programme has been running in Scottish acute hospitals since 2008, during which time it has achieved some remarkable results, including significant reductions in ventilator acquired pneumonia and central line infections in critical care units in test sites throughout Scotland.

However, patients receive care from a range of services – most notably, from their local GP.  We need to ensure that primary care is safe and that patients don’t fall through the gaps as they move across different parts of our healthcare system.

The aim of the Scottish Patient Safety Programme in Primary Care is to reduce the number of events which could cause avoidable harm from healthcare delivered in any primary care setting.  In order to achieve that goal, we have developed a range of tools and resources to support those working within primary care to bring about a patient safety culture within their teams.

  • Safety Culture: improving patient safety through the use of trigger tools (structured case note reviews) and safety climate surveys
  • Safer Medicines: including the prescribing and monitoring of high risk medications, such as warfarin and disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and developing reliable systems for medication reconciliation in the community.
    • Medicine Sick Day Rules Card - To complement the the publication of the updated Polypharmacy Guidance (March 2015), NHSScotland and the Scottish Patient Safety Programme are making the card available nationally. For information on how to order cards please click on the link.
  • Safety Across the Interface by focusing on developing reliable systems for handling written and electronic communication and implementing measures to ensure reliable care for patients.

In addition, the Pharmacy in Primary Care Collaborative has been running from July 2014 and will run for 2 years with  aims to improve patient safety by strengthening the contribution of pharmacists in primary care and improving communication within a more integrated primary care team. 

We are pleased to announce we are now spreading our work to Dentistry in Primary Care settings, Improving the Detection and Management of Sepsis in Primary Care  and Reducing Pressure Ulcers in Care Homes.

The Scottish Patient Safety Programme in Primary Care will give you access to tools, resources and learning which will help you directly influence patient safety within your primary care setting.  Download our summary booklet with information on the Primary Care programme and its aims. 

Copies of each workstream driver diagram can be found by clicking on the above links and in the Tools and Resources tab below.  Additional information and shared resources from NHS boards can be found on the SPSP Primary Care community site. (N.B. Some features may only be available to NHS Scotland staff).

Useful Links

Useful Links

NHS Education for Scotland (NES)

NHS Education for Scotland are a special health board responsible for supporting NHS services in Scotland by developing and delivering education and training for those who work in NHSScotland, and have worked closely with Healthcare Improvement Scotland to develop a number of the tools used in the Programme.  For more information, visit NHS Education for Scotland.

SOAR Scottish Online Appraisal Resource

A number of the tools used within the Patient Safety in Primary Care Programme will be used within GP Appraisal.  The Scottish GP Appraisal website is designed to tell you everything you need to know to participate in GP Appraisal in Scotland and offers a number of resources to support your appraisal preparation.  For more information, visit SOAR

Quality & Outcomes Framework (QOF)

The Quality & Outcomes Framework (QOF) represents one of the main sources of potential income for general practices (GP surgeries) across the UK. It is a major part of the new General Medical Services (GMS) contract, introduced on 1st April 2004. Participation by general practices in the QOF is voluntary. For those that do participate, the QOF measures achievement against a range of evidence-based indicators, with points and payments awarded according to the level of achievement.  For more information, visit Quality & Outcomes Framework

Tools and Resources

Driver Diagrams and Change Packages

Leadership and Safety Culture

Safer Medicines

Care Across the Interface

Video Resources


Other Resources

Data Collection

Data Collection

Collecting your bundle data can be done in a number of ways:


Additional information and resources can be found on the SPSP Primary Care community site. (N.B. Some features may only be available to NHS Scotland staff).

Contact the Team

Contact the Team

Follow us on Twitter: @SPSP_PC

To contact a member of the Primary Care team, please click on the relevant name below.

Name Position
Joanne Matthews Head of Scottish Patient Safety Programme
Jill Gillies Improvement Advisor
Catriona Macmillan Senior Project Officer
Wendy Forbes
Project Officer
Donna Davidson  Project Officer
Chris Hall
Katherine Wilkinson  Administrator