Patient Safety has become a key strategic priority for the Spanish National Health Service and as such has been included in the Quality Programme for the Spanish NHS. This programme sets out targets and specific actions with the Spanish Regional Health Authorities, with a view to promoting new synergies in the introduction of Safety policies designed to enhance the quality of healthcare at all levels.
Against this background, an International Conference on Patient Safety has been held on November 15-16, 2006. With this Conference, the Spanish Ministry of Health and Consumer Affairs, and in particular the Quality Agency, aimed to provide a forum for the sharing of information on relevant strategies and actions relating to Patient Safety Policies, based on the experience of the different health services and from an international perspective.
The International Patient Safety Conference, organized by the Directorate General of the Quality Agency of the Spanish NHS under the title “Challenges and realities in the Spanish National Health Service”, brought together 800 healthcare professionals, including both speakers and attendees, from 23 different countries. An indisputable success that provided a forum for sharing of the progress made and strategies developed in different parts of the world with a central objective, namely to improve patient safety and reduce the incidence of healthcare-related adverse events.
Elena Salgado, the Spanish Health Minister, highlighted in her address the importance of the work being done by Spanish healthcare professionals in the field of patient safety. “Safety in healthcare is one of the aspects that is most highly valued by patients and their families”, she said, “as well as being a key element of the system due to the costs that may otherwise be incurred”.
The Minister then went on to refer to the steps being taken in Spain in favour of patient safety. Between 2004 and 2005, the Ministry for Health and Consumer Affairs, through the Directorate General of the Quality Agency and together with the Spanish regional governments, drew up the strategic patient safety guidelines that were to form the basis of the National Quality Program launched in 2006 and which provides funding for the different safety policies (training, teaching, education and research). She also referred to the National Study of Adverse Events (ENEAS), “the first picture of this problem in Spanish hospitals”, that was presented in May 2006 at the National Symposium on Adverse Events held in Madrid. The ENEAS is the ninth study worldwide on patient safety and the sixth most extensive in terms of the number of patients included. The study confirms that Spain presents incidence rates similar to those of the rest of Europe, with 9.3% of patients experiencing AEs and almost half of these AEs being preventable. The Minister announced that ENEAS II is now in progress, a study that will facilitate information on the incidence of AEs in primary care. She also recalled that the “Healthcare Professionals for Patient Safety” Declaration was approved at the Symposium, with the support of more than 100 scientific societies, a level of commitment, in the view of the Minister, unprecedented in Spain.