The National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) started from a pilot study of mortality associated with anaesthesia in five regions in England, Wales and Scotland (Lunn and Mushin 1982). As a consequence, a joint venture was initiated between surgery and anaesthesia named the Confidential Enquiry into Perioperative Deaths (CEPOD), which became the National Confidential Enquiry into Perioperative Deaths (NCEPOD) in 1988. The first NCEPOD report was published in 1990.

NCEPOD now covers all specialities and covers near misses as well as deaths.

The remit of NCEPOD is "to assist in maintaining and improving standards of medical and surgical care for the benefit of the public by reviewing the management of patients, by undertaking confidential surveys and research, and by maintaining and improving the quality of patient care and by publishing and generally making available the results of such activities"