Recent MJA editorials assert that Australian hospitals are no safer than they were when the first hospital safety report was published in 1995. Despite many recommendations by several committees and much activity to improve safety over the past decade, we lack concrete evidence that safety and quality of health care have improved. Efforts to promote hospital safety in the United States and the United Kingdom also remain unevaluated. Incentives for safer care have been implemented locally, but not applied to entire health systems. A recent review in Australia has recommended replacing the current Australian Council for Safety and Quality in Health Care with a smaller Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. The Commission will link all national safety activity and report annually to Australian health ministers on hospital safety. We need a system that measures quality and safety, and provides financial incentives for safer care. Implementing the national framework for education about patient safety would develop teamwork skills and skills in techniques of continuous improvement. Linked to this, adequate financial support should be available to make safety changes in the health care environment.