WORK to boost patient safety at Great Western Hospital has been welcomed by the health secretary.

Jeremy Hunt, the government minister who oversees the NHS, visited the Swindon hospital this morning as part of a nationwide tour.

In a talk to hospital staff he praised work done to improve patient safety at the hospital – including efforts to reduce pressure sores and tackle blood poisoning.

Great Western's bosses have set staff the goal of saving an extra 500 lives by 2020 through safer and better care.

Mr Hunt said: “There’s so much innovative work going on at Great Western that is improving patient safety not just locally, but across the entire country because of its commitment to sharing best practice and making the entire NHS safer.

“The trust continues to set itself deliberately ambitious targets to remain focussed on its vision of safety and quality, and I wanted to thank all the staff at Great Western for continuing to prioritise this incredible work even when our hospitals are busier than ever - being so proactive under such pressured circumstances is very impressive.”

Thanking staff for their contribution, GWH’s medical director Dr Guy Rooney said: “Patient safety has always been the top item on our agenda and it is a credit to our staff that their efforts in providing patients with consistently safe care attracted the attention of the Secretary of State.

“We’re known throughout the NHS as an organisation that leads the way in many key areas of patient safety, such as sepsis, where we have helped more than 1,500 people in the last year overcome the deadly condition, and pressure ulcers, for which we are the best performing Trust in the south west.

“Of course, there are some areas where safety can be further improved and this will be where our attention is focused on going forward but, for now, I’d like to thank Jeremy Hunt for taking the time to see for himself the good work that’s happening in Swindon.”

Health campaigner Samantha Wathen of the Swindon branch of Keep Our NHS Public, praised the work of GWH staff – but questioned the health secretary’s commitment to patient safety in the NHS.

She said: “We are incredibly proud of the amazing work staff do at our own GWH and it is only right this is recognised by the government.

“However, hearing Jeremy Hunt advocate for patient safety when he has presided over the worst crisis in NHS history and forced junior doctors to strike over patient safety is a bit rich. Actions speak louder than words and we need him to act to fund the NHS properly for the good of both patients and staff.”

In July, Jeremy Hunt and NHS England chief Simon Stevens announced a £325million investment for patient care projects across England.

On a visit to Reading’s Prospect Park Hospital this week, Mr Hunt revealed plans to make the NHS publish quarterly reports on the number of preventable deaths.