New MPS data identifies the top five risks to general practices in 2009

New MPS data identifies the top five risks to general practices in 2009

5 March 2010

Data from MPS risk assessments conducted in over 100 general practices in the UK reveals that the top five risks practices faced during 2009 related to issues with maintaining confidentiality, health and safety, test results, prescribing, and communication.

The data was collected by analysing the results of Clinical Risk Self Assessments (CRSAs) of general practices conducted in 2009. These are provided by MPS Educational Services and involve trained clinical risk facilitators undertaking visits to practices and working with practice staff to identify risks.

Analysis of the data shows the following results.

Top five risks identified in general practices 
Rank Risk 

Percentage of practices with risks by topic 

Confidentiality and issues relating to Caldicott principles 



Health and Safety issues (including security)



Test results








Breach of confidentiality tops the bill, as 100% of practices visited identified that they face issues relating to confidentiality. For example, the potential for patients to overhear conversations at the reception desk is an issue for many practices and changing the reception layout is not always practical. The risk assessment process helps identify other changes practices could make, such as moving sensitive conversations into a more discrete area, asking the patient on the phone to identify themselves (to avoid saying their name), and keeping voices at a low volume.

Speaking about confidentiality, Dr Stephanie Bown, Director of Communications and Policy, said: “The universal finding by all practices that they could improve patient confidentiality demonstrates what a common challenge this is in the busy primary care environment. It has been encouraging to see the changes that practices have been able to make. 

Dr Stephanie Bown adds: “General practices are busy places where there is the possibility of human and systems errors, so risks will never be eliminated entirely, however the practices we have dealt with have demonstrated a strong commitment to identifying and addressing risks and improving safe and professional services for patients.” 


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