Skip to main content


Volume 450: debated on Tuesday 24 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research her Department has (a) undertaken and (b) commissioned into the (i) prevalence and (ii) cost of misdiagnosis within the national health service. (91338)

The Department does not undertake research centrally.

The patient safety research portfolio (PSRP) was set up to promote patient safety research in the wake of the publication of the chief medical officer’s report “An Organisation with a Memory” and received central funding until 2005. The university of Birmingham manages PSRP and under this programme the following research project has been commissioned:

“Threats to patient safety in primary care: A review of the research into the frequency and nature of error in primary care”, Dr. John Sanders and Dr. Aneez Esmail at the university of Manchester. The full report is available on the Patient Safety Research Programme website at

The clinical safety research unit, department of biosurgery and surgical technology, at Imperial College London and the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) have also commissioned a one-year exploratory study, it is looking at the nature of misdiagnosis reported to the national reporting and learning system, which is operated by the NPSA. The results of this study are in the process of being analysed.

Under the National Institute for Health Research, the Department is setting up a small number of research centres for national health service patient safety and service quality. The aim of these centres will be to fund research to drive forward improvements in quality and effectiveness, particularly in the domain of safety of NHS services and translate advances in health services research in patient safety into benefits for patients and the public. Funding will be available in 2007.

Over 75 per cent. of the Department’s total expenditure on health research is devolved to and managed by NHS organisations. Details of individual projects, including a number concerned with misdiagnosis of particular conditions, are available on the national research register at