10 years of the PSA contributing to patient safety

The Prescribing Safety Assessment (PSA), developed and delivered by the British Pharmacological Society and MSC Assessment, is celebrating its 10th year. The PSA allows all students to demonstrate their competencies in relation to the safe and effective prescribing of medicines. On World Patient Safety Day (17 September 2020), we wanted to highlight some of the reasons why the PSA is an important and pivotal assessment, and look at the impact it has had on improving patient safety over the last 10 years:

  • It is collaborative: doctors and pharmacists continue to work together to ensure the validity and standards of the assessment are the best they can be.
  • It has seen exponential growth: the PSA, or variants of it, have been run in 1,555 events in 166 institutions to over 60,000 candidates.
  • It is versatile: not only is the whole PSA procedure, from item authoring to release of results managed online, but the assessment ran successfully during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • It has honed skills and training: a 2019 external review of the PSA showed that stakeholders believe it is having a positive educational impact. The same independent review concluded: ‘while no single test could be a determinant of patient safety, the PSA is almost certainly a significant contributor to patient safety.’
  • It is award-winning: the assessment won in the RCP Excellence in Patient Care Awards 2020
Rachel Lambert-Forsyth, Chief Executive of the British Pharmacological Society, said:

World Patient Safety Day aims to raise public awareness and engagement, enhance global understanding and spur action to promote patient safety. The PSA is a crucial factor in ensuring that our doctors and pharmacists are correctly prescribing medicines. The Society is very proud to have co-developed the PSA alongside MSC assessment, with whom we continue to collaborate. I wish the PSA a very happy 10th birthday and I look forward to many future anniversaries!

Dr Rick Plumb, Consultant Physician, Clinical Pharmacologist, Queen’s University Belfast and Chair of the Standards setting group for the PSA, said:

Happy Birthday PSA. Congratulations to the PSA team for creating a tremendous legacy for improving patient safety. Here’s to the next 10 years!

Dr Ali Hosin, Clinical Pharmacology Registrar, University College London and University College London Hospital, said:

Happy birthday to the PSA! It allowed me to hone my prescribing knowledge and skills in order to do so safely and confidently. Without it, I would have found prescribing for the first time as a newly qualified doctor a rather more daunting prospect.

Dr Lynne Bollington, pharmacist and lead consultant for the PSA, said:

World Patient Safety Day 2020 gives us an opportunity to highlight the contributions of the PSA to patient safety over the last decade. The PSA is the first national online assessment of prescribing competency anywhere in the world. I am particularly proud of the role pharmacists have played in the PSA with their medicines expertise. Almost half of PSA contributors are pharmacists and they are involved in every step of the Quality Assurance process. The multidisciplinary nature of the PSA has been one of the key factors in its success.

Professor Simon Maxwell, PSA Medical Director, Physician and Clinical Pharmacologist, University of Edinburgh, said:

It’s been my privilege to lead the development of the PSA over the first 10 years of its existence. The UK PSA was the first large-scale national assessment of prescribing skills and knowledge and is now one of the biggest online medical assessments in the world - an achievement of which UK medical education can be proud. Its presence ensures that all UK medical graduates are reminded of the importance of safe and effective medicines as part of the delivery of high-quality healthcare at the outset of their career. I would like to thank everyone involved in the PSA for their hard work and wish the assessment well for the next 10 years.

Dr Olwyn Westwood, Professor of Medical Education, Brunel University London, said:

Wishing the PSA a Happy 10th Birthday. I am so proud to part of this assessment. Its aim is to ensure confidence and competence of those prescribing. Not only for the doctors themselves, but also the public, employers, and their colleagues.

Dr Fraz Mir, Consultant Physician in Cambridge and Chair of the Joint Formulary Committee for the British National Formulary (BNF), said:

I have had the privilege of being involved with the PSA, since its conception. And, like any other proud parent, I’ve looked on in admiration as it has progressed through the years, helping to drive up prescribing standards. Happy Birthday to the PSA, and the PSA team. And the very best of wishes for the next 10 years!

Published: 17 Sep 2020 in Society news