What Should Safety Look Like at a System Level?

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Mar 30 2023 News

Aqua recently convened a selection of expert panellists to a round table discussion, considering ‘What should safety look like at a system level?’. The round table was chaired by Professor Ted Baker, who led the discussion around the key issues facing Integrated Care Systems and how we can help support their development.

“We need a different approach to patient safety if we are to provide the best care for all the population we serve. Safety is a property of the whole system and the development of integrated care systems is an unrivaled opportunity to do this well.  Working with safety experts and system leaders, it was exciting to the explore the possibilities of how systems can be supported to develop their plans to deliver high quality, safe and efficient care.”

-Professor Ted Baker

The Panel

  • Professor Ted Baker (Chair) Former Chief Inspector CQC, Chair Health Service Safety Investigations Body Special Advisor for Aqua.
  • Helen Hughes Chief Executive, Patient Safety Learning
  • Professor Maggie Boyd Former Regional Clinical Quality Director (Midlands and East), Executive Coach & Principal Consultant, Special Advisor for Aqua
  • Dr Cheryl Crocker Patient Safety Director, Academic Health Science Network
  • Dr Matt Hill National Clinical Advisor on Safety Culture, NHS England Consultant Anaesthetist for University Hospitals NHS Trust Plymouth
  • Dr Lisa Riste Aqua Lived Experience Panel
  • Danielle Oum Chair for Coventry and Warwickshire Integrated Care Board
  • Tracey Herlihey Head of Patient Safety Incident Response Policy at NHS England
  • Peter Ledwith Programme Manager for Safety, Aqua

The Conversation

Our panel discussed a wide range of topics covering safety within Integrated Care Systems and the factors affecting it.

Panellists raised the importance of systems prioritising safety, in reducing unintentional harm as well as enabling a more engaged and productive workforce, a financially stable service and a reduction in health inequalities.

The importance of culture was also discussed, with the aim of creating a collaborative system safety culture that is sustained so all can flourish. This culture shift means embracing all those working across health & care to tackle the biggest system challenges across primary, ambulatory, secondary and social care.

Leadership was also considered, with the panel agreeing that leaders at all levels in a system can demonstrate the correct behaviours to lead a safety culture across a system. This allows safety to be proactively managed in a consistent way, with strategic goals for system safety also being linked to data and health inequalities

It was agreed that lived experience has a big part to play in system safety, with the voice of patients being crucial to setting the right safety priorities, and that learning from their experiences will ensure that new models provide safe care.

The panel went on to discuss how systems can play a significant role in reducing inequalities related to patient and staff safety. Learning from safety events for people in groups more likely to experience unsafe care can be used to drive improved safety for all, with safety being considered as a cross-cutting theme when policy and pathways are developed.

Finally, the panel agreed that collaboration, innovation, and improvement within systems between different services, with patients and the local community and with other systems is also vital for system safety.

What’s next?

We are keen to equip systems and organisations with the priorities and insights needed to develop their patient safety plans, whilst supporting individuals to feel empowered in their knowledge of patient safety and what they could be doing to influence and improve.


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