WHO World Patient Safety Day

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Sep 17 2020 Blogs
Peter Ledwith, Quality Improvement Programme Manager

Today, the World Health Organization, international partners and all countries will celebrate World Patient Safety Day. Here at AQuA we will be highlighting the challenges that face the Health and Care system at National, Regional and Local Scale.

The overall objectives of World Patient Safety Day are to enhance global understanding of patient safety, promote global actions to enhance patient safety and reduce patient harm. The COVID-19 pandemic is presently among the biggest threats and health care is experiencing its greatest challenge in patient safety ever! The pandemic has exerted unprecedented pressure on health systems nationally.

As a result of the pandemic, the implementation of the National Patient Safety Strategy (NPSS) has been placed on hold to enable organisations and systems to battle with the pandemic. With this work about to restart it seems appropriate for me to consider what we have learnt over the past year. For sure the health and care system has been stretched like never before in recent history.  However, the gains that have been fought for and new ways of working that have been introduced, in what would have previously been considered impossible timeframes pay testament to the skills, dedication and hard work of the people that make up the health and care system. I feel that’s its really important now especially for leaders, to consider how these new ways of working were enabled and how this knowledge can be used to support the implementation of the new safety strategy.

Rightly, patient safety is our ultimate outcome focus, however achieving this outcome requires our staff to be safe too. During the past year I have drawn on my previous experiences working within HM Armed Forces and how the introduction of Trauma Risk Management and generation of psychologically safe environments allowed me to decompress and helped me to keep mentally safe. Using these experiences, I have been working closely with psychologists, the wider AQuA team and teams across the health and care sectors, from Acute Trust through to Primary and Social Care, to help establish staff wellbeing sessions. It was a really humbling experience for me to have the opportunity work with such incredible teams, especially during the height of the pandemic when creating those psychologically safe environments was so key. As part of our support, we put together a huddle guide, to support teams with their safety huddles and debriefings.

Moving forward my focus will be to support our members and others to implement the requirements of the new strategy. This work will cover an array of differing roles and topics and will require leaders at all levels to be engaged in moving this work forward. The strategy covers topics such as psychological safety, human factors, risk analysis, civility and learning form excellence. There are functional topics too, such as the introduction of a single standard incident reporting framework and the development of the new specific patient safety specialists whose sole role will be safety and how to improve it.

I see real opportunities for improvement within all sectors and at all levels, whilst there will definitely still be challenges, aren’t we better placed now, given what we have learnt from this horrible to year, to face these challenges? Personally I’m really excited to see what can be achieved in the short, medium and longer terms.

The AQuA safety programmes are there to help support leadership and teams to face the emergent world and grasp the opportunities that we will all face and uncover over the following days months and years. If you’d like to have a conversation about how we can support you with safety, please get in touch:

Peter Ledwith, Quality Improvement Programme Manager


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