Acute Adult

A group of nurses and doctors talking

Deteriorating Patient

The aim of the Deteriorating Patient workstream is to reduce mortality and harm for people in acu...

Pressure Ulcers

Read more on our work on pressure ulcers


Read more on our work on falls


Read more on Catheter Associated Urinary Tract Infection (CAUTI)


Since its launch in 2008, the Acute Adult programme has contributed to a significant reduction in harm and mortality to acute adult inpatients through: 

  • introduction and development of quality improvement methodology through testing of focused safety interventions
  • testing and implementation of leadership activities that provide organisational support for safety
  • building of capacity and capability within clinical and non clinical roles 
  • tangible patient impact on patient outcomes through reduction of infection rates such as Ventilator Associated Pneumonia and Central Line Bloodstream Infections
  • widespread implementation of safety briefs, daily goal setting in ICU and surgical brief and pause
  • improvement in the recognition and treatment of Deteriorating Patients and Sepsis, and
  • transition of now well-established interventions from improvement to day to day care through the Patient Safety Essentials.

In 2012, the Cabinet Secretary for Health & Wellbeing announced stretching new aims for the Acute Adult programme:

  • To further reduce mortality in Scotland’s acute hospitals
  • To further reduce harm experienced by patients in Scotland’s acute hospitals

To achieve these aims, the Acute Adult programme will continue to work with NHSScotland boards to test and implement processes that will further improve reliable care delivery across a range of clinical areas.

An Acute Adult 'infographic' has been developed by Healthcare Improvement Scotland as a prompt for healthcare professionals to help teams understand why continuous improvement is so important.

Additional information and resources can be found below and in the members area of this website. (N.B. Access to this portal requires registration and is currently available to NHSScotland staff only).


The Scottish Patient Safety Programme (SPSP) is now part of Healthcare Improvement Scotland’s Improvement Hub supporting improvement across health and social care. This is a unique national programme that aims to improve the safety of healthcare and reduce the level of harm experienced by people using healthcare services.

SPSP aims to support National Health and Wellbeing Outcome 7: People using health and social care services are safe from harm. The Acute Adult aim continues to be to reduce harm and mortality in hospitals.

The Acute Adult programme will continue to work with NHSScotland boards to test and implement processes that will further improve reliable care delivery across a range of clinical areas.

The Acute Adult programme also supports NHS boards that continue to work on reducing harm from; VenousThromboembolism (VTE), heart failure, medicines and surgical site infections.

Additional information and resources can be found in the members area of this website. (N.B. Access to this portal requires registration and is currently available to NHSScotland staff only).

SPSP work infographic

Click image above to open

Measurement and Reporting

Overarching aims have been developed to support each of the key themes, with supporting outcome measures in relation to each specific topic area. Whilst the aims will be set nationally, NHS boards will set locally-specific aims against the supporting measures based on existing baselines.

Testing, implementing and measurement of processes are essential components on efforts to improve outcomes. National data reporting will focus on key theme aims and supporting outcome measures, with support around the use of process measures, focusing on development of guidance on potential measures and, where required, advice on how to use them.

Below you will find links to tools and resources relating to the Acute Adult programme.

National Early Warning Score (NEWS)

The Scottish Patient Safety Programme is encouraging the use of the National Early Warning Score across Scotland.

NEWS is an evidence based tool to support recognition and response of acute physiological deterioration which is recommended by the Royal College of Physicians.


WebEx are a way for the SPSP Acute Adult to share learning and  provide support to NHS boards working to achieve the aims of SPSP. The Acute Adult team host WebEx calls focusing on CAUTI, Cardiac arrest, Deteriorating patient, inclucing sepsis and Pressure ulcers. The WebEx provide an opportunity for participants to share good ideas, ask questions, as well as keeping participants up to date with progress across all NHS boards. Slides and recordings from previous WebEx are available here

Handy Guides

The Health Foundation 

Improving handover at night (video)This video shows how staff at NHS Lothian went about improving patient safety by focusing on Hospital at Night (HAN) handovers – identifying the problems and trialling solutions. This work came out of NHS Lothian's involvement in the Health Foundation's Safer Clinical Systems programme.

Patient Safety Brief - Haelo

Based on the concept of safety advice given on aeroplanes before they take off, patients in NHS hospitals can now be shown a film to help them look after themselves during their hospital stay.

Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratio (HSMR) Toolkit



Data provides rich, valuable information that allows us to understand variation in our system.  Data collection is fundamental in quality improvement and there are many types of data that are helpful in supporting changes that result in improvement, including continuous measurements and counts of observations.

The Acute Adult programme reviewed and published a revised measurement plan in November 2015.  Data is collected at ward level, with collated measures across the board submitted by NHS boards to the national team, within an agreed data reporting and assessment of progress schedule.  Learning from data is key and supports staff to implement the changes required to achieve the aims of the programme.  Feedback reports of data assessment are agreed in collaboration with Programme Managers.

Follow us on Twitter: @SPSP_AcuteAdult

To make an enquiry please contact

To contact a member of the Acute Adult team, please click on the relevant name below.

Name Position
Joanne Matthews Head of Scottish Patient Safety Programme
Alison Hunter Improvement Advisor
Samantha McEwan Associate Improvement Advisor
Wendy Nimmo Associate Improvement Advisor
Paul Smith Associate Improvement Advisor
Sarah Hatton Programme Manager
Mark Allen Senior Project Officer
Susan Marr Project Officer
Amy Walker Project Officer
Ashley Li Project Administrator