NHS Patient Safety Syllabus training - elearning for healthcare
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This programme is in partnership with...
  • The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges
  • Health Education England_New logo 2021
  • NHS England and NHS Improvement

About the NHS Patient Safety Syllabus training programme

When patients are harmed, it has an impact on them, their loved ones, our staff, and others who work in the healthcare system. It is crucial that all staff, whatever our roles, see safety not just as our collective responsibility, but as a key priority. We all need to think differently about what patient safety means and how we can make improvements.

Overall, we can make healthcare even safer by:

  • Dealing with risks before they can cause harm
  • Working to create a positive patient safety culture
  • Building safer systems
  • Recognising everyone’s role in patient safety

More information

The NHS Patient Safety Strategy  will help us deliver the changes we need. The Strategy includes a patient safety syllabus and training programme for the whole NHS. This is designed to help everyone who works in the NHS take all the necessary steps to ensure our patients are safe while they are in our care

This training has five levels, which build on each other.

The first level, Essentials for patient safety, is the starting point for all NHS staff, and includes sections on:

  • Listening to patients and raising concerns
  • The systems approach to safety, where instead of focusing on the performance of individual members of staff, we try to improve the way we work
  • Avoiding inappropriate blame when things don’t go well
  • Creating a just culture that prioritises safety and is open to learning about risk and safety

Level one also provides an additional session for senior leaders: Essentials of patient safety for boards and senior leadership teams, which includes sections on:

  • The human, organisational and financial costs of patient safety
  • The benefits of a framework for governance in patient safety
  • Understanding the need for proactive safety management and a focus on risk in addition to past harm
  • Key factors in leadership for patient safety
  • The harmful effects of safety incidents on staff at all levels

Level two, Access to practice is intended for those who have an interest in understanding more about patient safety or who want to go on to access the higher levels of training. There are two sessions. The first introduces systems thinking (how the way we work can be used to reduce error and improve safety) and risk expertise (how we can identify and manage risk to keep patients safe). The second session looks at human factors (the science of work and of working together in safely designed systems) and safety culture (the significance of a true learning culture, free of inappropriate blame).

Further training in all aspects of patient safety will be developed from 2022 and released through different channels and media, enabling members of the health and care workforce in all professions to build on their growing expertise in patient safety. Visit the AoMRC website for details.


Acknowledgements of assistance developing the training modules

We would like to acknowledge those who have helped review these training modules as they were developed.  This included members of key stakeholder organisations and over 50 frontline clinical staff.

We would like to acknowledge the support and guidance offered by members of the following organisations represented on our Advisory Group for development of the syllabus.


  • Allied Health Professions Federation
  • Academic Health Science Network
  • Care Quality Commission
  • Council of Postgraduate Medical Deans
  • Council of Deans of Health
  • Department of Health Northern Ireland
  • General Medical Council
  • Heath and Care Professions Council
  • Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch
  • Health Education England
  • Health Education and Improvement Wales
  • Lay representatives
  • Medical Schools’ Council
  • National Association of Clinical Tutors
  • NHS Clinical Commissioners
  • NHS Education for Scotland
  • NHS Employers
  • NHS England and Improvement
  • Nursing and Midwifery Council
  • Royal College of General Practitioners
  • Royal College of Midwives
  • Royal College of Nursing
  • Royal College of Physicians including its Chief Registrar Programme
  • Royal Pharmaceutical Society
  • Society & College of Radiographers
  • UK Foundation Programme

Meet the team

  • Professor Peter Spurgeon, Project Lead, Warwick Medical School

    Professor Peter Spurgeon

    Syllabus author, Project Lead, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, Professor Emeritus Health Services Management, Warwick Medical School
  • Dr Steve Cross

    Dr Steve Cross, Associate

    Syllabus Author, Associate in Patient Safety, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges
  • Dr Richard McMaster C.ErgHF MCIEHF

    Dr Richard McMaster C.ErgHF MCIEHF

    Human Factors Lead / Chartered Ergonomist and Human Factors (E/HF) specialist, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges
  • Dr Rose Jarvis

    Dr Rose Jarvis

    Policy Lead Academy of Medical Royal Colleges
  • Philippa Byrom

    Philippa Byrom

    The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, Project Manager
  • Victoria Ward

    Victoria Ward

    Lead Learning Designer, HEE e-Learning for Healthcare
  • Jon Collins

    Jon Collins

    Project Manager, HEE e-Learning for Healthcare
  • Clair Guy

    Clair Guy

    Programme Manager, HEE e-Learning for Healthcare
  • Catherine Moran

    Catherine Moran

    Graphic Designer, HEE e-Learning for Healthcare
  • Scott Tyrrell

    Scott Tyrrell

    Animator, HEE e-Learning for Healthcare
  • elfh-staff-Alex-Drinkall-learning-profile

    Alex Drinkall

    Communications and Stakeholder Lead, HEE e-Learning for Healthcare
  • Sam Illingworth

    Sam Illingworth

    Director of Education Quality and Reform, HEE
  • Marie Moore

    Marie Moore

    Quality Transformation Manager and Patient Safety Lead, HEE
  • Semone Boyal

    Semone Boyal

    Programme Manager, HEE
  • Max Prangnell

    Max Prangnell

    Comms - The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges
  • James Nicholls

    James Nicholls

    NHSE/I comms lead
  • Christian Brailsford, Regional Head of Nursing and Midwifery, HEE South West

    Christian Brailsford

    Regional Head of Nursing and Midwifery, HEE South West
  • Aidan Fowler

    Aidan Fowler

    National Director of Patient Safety in England, NHSE/I
  • Matt Fogarty

    Matt Fogarty

    Deputy Director of Patient Safety, Policy & Strategy, NHSE/I
  • Alastair Henderson

    Alastair Henderson

    CEO Academy of Medical Royal Colleges
  • Carl Jessop

    Carl Jessop

    Communications Programme Manager, Corporate Accountability and Engagement Directorate, HEE
  • Joan Russell

    Joan Russell

    Head of Patient Safety, Policy and Partnerships NHSE/I

How to Access

In order to access any e-LfH programme, you will need an e-LfH account. If you do not have one, then you can register by selecting the Register button below.

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To view the NHS Patient Safety Syllabus training programme, select the View button below. If you already have an account with elfh, you will also be able to login and enrol on the programme from the View button.

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If you already have an account with e-LfH, then you can enrol on to the NHS Patient Safety Syllabus training programme by logging in to the e-LfH Hub, selecting My Account > Enrolment and selecting the programme. You can then access the programme immediately in the My e-Learning section.

NHS healthcare staff in England – ESR

The NHS Patient Safety Syllabus training programme is also available to NHS healthcare staff via the Electronic Staff Record (ESR). Accessing this e-learning via ESR means that your completions will transfer with you throughout your NHS career.

Further details are available here.

Not an NHS organisation?

If you are not an NHS health or care organisation and therefore do not qualify for free access e-LfH Hub, you may be able to access the service by creating an OpenAthens account.

To check whether or not you qualify for free access via OpenAthens, you can view the eligibility criteria and register on the ‘OpenAthens’ portal.

Registering large numbers of users

If you are a HR, IT or Practice Manager and would like to register and enrol large numbers of staff within your organisation for access onto the NHS Patient Safety Syllabus training programme, please contact e-LfH directly.

Organisations wishing to use their own LMS

For HR departments wanting to know more about gaining access to courses using an existing Learning Management System please contact e-LfH directly to express interest.

More information

Please select the following link for more information on how to use the e-LfH Hub.

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