What is the purpose of Patient Safety Learning, and how are you different to other, similar organisations?

Twenty years ago, patient safety was identified as a fundamental healthcare issue. Since then, patient safety scandals have triggered many inquiries. Tens of thousands of investigations have been conducted into incidents of unsafe care, leading to the writing of hundreds of thousands of recommendations. Many initiatives have been launched to address specific patient safety problems. Some have been successful, others less so. Many charities have done great work to campaign for change or help patients who suffer avoidable harm from healthcare.

Yet still today, many thousands of patients still suffer avoidable harm or death. Clearly, the work that people have been doing to make care safer isn't enough. To make patients safer, we need to think, and act, differently.

This is what we set up Patient Safety Learning to do. We seek to transform health and social care by analysing the systemic foundations of unsafe care, by taking or instigating action to address these, and so create a world where patients are free from harm.

What is the focus of Patient Safety Learning's work?

We have identified the following foundations of safer care:

  • Shared learning.
    The ability to share learning about patient safety in healthcare is limited. We are taking action, such as the hub, to address this.
  • Leadership for patient safety.
    No common principles, standards, models or framework appears to exist for effective leadership of patient safety. We propose to engage a forum of leaders to develop these.
  • Professionalising patient safety.
    No common set of standards for skills, behaviours, attitude and performance appear to exist for all those whose work affects patient safety. We propose to develop a common competency framework as a basis for developing these.
  • Patient engagement for patient safety.
    Active engagement of patients in their care has been shown to make care safer and to improve health outcomes. We propose to work with patients and healthcare bodies to enable active engagement of patients in governance, patient engagement in care, and the development of harmed patient care pathways.
  • Data and insight for patient safety.
    Almost all the patient safety data collected in healthcare is about harm, rather than safety. We propose to convene a symposium of health and data experts to begin developing models of data that will be effective in helping manage patient safety, rather than harm after the fact.
  • Patient safety culture.
    A 'blame culture' makes patients less safe. We are advocating and supporting the adoption of what is termed a 'Just Culture' which balances accountability with the recognition that the causes of safety failure are usually systemic, rather than simply the failure of individuals.

Underpinning all of these are two fundamentals of patient safety.

First, that patient safety is part of the core purpose of healthcare. It is not as a 'priority' to be traded off against an organisation's other priorities, such as budget or reputation.

Second - in contrast, for example, with fire safety or safeguarding - common organisational standards for patient safety do not appear to exist. This means that organisations lack common requirements for patient safety in governance, audit, performance, facilities, operations, skills and procedures. This, in turn, means that patients will experience different levels of safety from each healthcare organisation.

We are acting on all of these to help create a patient-safe future.

Learn more about our analysis and the range of action we propose by downloading our report, A Blueprint for Action.

What is the purpose of the hub, and how is it different to other patient safety websites?

the hub has as its high-level purpose to facilitate the sharing of learning around patient safety. It does this in several main ways:

  • Firstly, by enabling people to share what they have done within a well structured knowledge repository.
  • Secondly, by providing a number of community spaces for people to discuss relevant patient safety issues and ideas, and to collaborate where appropriate to develop innovative solutions to challenging patient safety problems.
  • Lastly, by informing people of current patient safety news and upcoming events that help to raise the level of knowledge and awareness around patient safety in general.

There are knowledge repositories for patient safety that exist in a number of places online and, more commonly, sections within larger knowledge libraries that have patient safety as their focus. There are also several communities online that have been dedicated to discussions around patient safety.

the hub is one of the first websites of its type to combine both a knowledge repository with a set of communities. Patient Safety Learning commits to keeping the content fresh and of high quality, and also to actively moderate all postings into the knowledge area. It does this through the use of a team of people, consisting of a lead editor, content facilitator and a content moderator. Having people who are solely dedicated to the refinement, maintenance and quality aspects of the website is a huge differentiator.

There is no barrier to entry for anybody who wishes to view content, unlike some other sites that focus on patient safety and quality. For those that wish to share their own content, membership is entirely free. The platform is intended for use by a very wide audience; patient safety leads, frontline clinicians, patients, researchers and academics. This open approach to the sharing of knowledge is also a significant differentiator of the hub.

    How does Patient Safety Learning get its funding?

    Patient Safety Learning has been set up using a philanthropic donation. As a charity, we will be securing our income from a variety of sources:

    • philanthropic donations
    • grants from Foundations and Trusts
    • income for delivering services
    • sponsorship
    • income from conferences, events and training

    How does Patient Safety Learning work with other organisations, e.g. the NHS?

    Patient Safety Learning will work in partnership with whomever can drive patient safety improvement.

    We will actively source knowledge from organisations, sharing good practice and insights from unsafe care to help improve patient safety - NHS organisations (providers, commissioners and policy makers), charities, private sector providers and insurers, etc.

    We will work with organisations to develop standards for patient safety, accreditation and self-assessment. We will also develop training and advisory services for improving patient safety.

      How does Patient Safety Learning work with patients?

      Patient Safety Learning works with patients in the following ways:

      • One of our six foundations for a patient-safe future is Patient Engagement for Patient Safety. This has been developed collaboratively with patient leaders, including those with direct experience of unsafe care. In A Blueprint for Action we call for specific action to engage patients in patient safety: at the point of care, if things go wrong and in advocacy roles. We will be expanding this into a separate report, due out in autumn 2019.
      • We have developed the hub, our online knowledge platform for patient safety, with patient leaders, clinicians and patient safety experts. All the hub communities have topic experts supporting, and at times leading discussions. We have two patient leaders for patient engagement in patient safety. We are excited about the opportunity for patients and family members to use the hub, to source and share information related to patient safety, and to be active members of our communities.
      • We are establishing strong collaboration with patient representative organisations that provide support directly to patients and families, including the Patients Association, AvMA and Care Opinion.
      • We ask patient leaders to present at our annual conference.

      How can I get involved?

      You could choose to get involved in one or more of the following ways:

      • Join the hub to share learning and discuss ideas with others who share your ambitions to improve patient safety.
      • Help Patient Safety Learning achieve its goals to make healthcare safer by emailing us about funding opportunities.
      • Attend our annual conference and get to know us personally, find out more about who we are, what we’re doing and how you can support us.
      • Enter our annual awards so we can share your success story and improve shared learning. Our Awards received brilliant feedback last year, so be sure to look out for information about, and enter, our Awards in 2020!
      • Start a conversation with us on Twitter or LinkedIn.
      • Stay up-to-date by signing up for our newsletter (you'll see the sign-up button at the bottom of this page).
      • If you're a journalist, help us to make healthcare safer by promoting our cause in your publication. Email us with any requests for information or an interview.

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