A comparative assessment of two tools designed to support patient safety culture in UK general practice

Ian Litchfield, Kate Marsden, Lucy Doos, Katherine Perryman, Anthony Avery, Sheila Greenfield

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The NHS has recognised the importance of a high quality patient safety culture in the delivery of primary health care in the rapidly evolving environment of general practice. Two tools, PC-SafeQuest and MapSaf, were developed with the intention of assessing and improving patient safety culture in this setting. Both have been made widely available through their inclusion in the Royal College of General Practitioners’ Patient Safety Toolkit and our work offerss a timely exploration of the tools to inform practice staff as to how each might be usefully applied and in which circumstances. Here we present a comparative analysis of their content, and describe the perspectives of staff on their design, outputs and the feasibility of their sustained use.

We have used a content analysis to provide the context for the qualitative study of staff experiences of using the tools at a representative range of practices recruited from across the Midlands (UK). Data was collected through moderated focus groups using an identical topic guide.

A total of nine practices used the PC-SafeQuest tool and four the MapSaf tool. A total of 159 staff completed the PC-SafeQuest tool 52 of whom took part in the subsequent focus group discussions, and 25 staff completed the MapSaf tool all of whom contributed to the focus group discussions. PC-SafeQuest was perceived as quick and easy to use with direct questions pertinent to the work of GP practices providing useful quantitative insight into important areas of safety culture. Though MaPSaF was more logistically challenging, it created a forum for synchronous cross- practice discussions raising awareness of perceptions of safety culture across the practice team.

Both tools were able to promote reflective and reflexive practice either in individual staff members or across the broader practice team and the oversight they granted provided useful direction for senior staff looking to improve patient safety. Because PC SafeQuest can be easily disseminated and independently completed it is logistically suited to larger practice organisations, whereas the MapSaf tool lends itself to smaller practices where assembling staff in a single workshop is more readily achieved.
Original languageEnglish
Article number98
JournalBMC Family Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The ‘Development of the NSPCR Patient Safety Toolkit for general practices’ was funded by the National Institute for Health Research School for Primary Care Research (NIHR SPCR). The funding body was neither involved in the design of the study nor the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data and writing of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • General practice
  • Health service delivery
  • Patient safety
  • Safety culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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