Earlier this week, Patient Safety Learning’s Chief Executive, Helen Hughes, looked back over 2020, highlighting some of the big themes in patient safety we’ve seen this year and our own work in these areas.
This is the first of five mini blogs, where we give an overview of each of these themes in turn. Today, we look at the impact COVID-19 has had on patient safety.
As an additional option to the text below, you might like to watch the following short video from our Business and Policy Manager, Mark Hughes:
While the healthcare system has rightly focused its attention on the deadly effects of COVID-19, we made the case this year that we need to pay attention to patient safety now more than ever; the pandemic has both magnified existing patient safety issues and created new challenges.
One major area of our focus has been the pandemic’s impact on non COVID-19 care and treatment, and the consequences for patient safety. To develop our understanding of this issue, in March we launched our #safetystories campaign, asking for patients with issues not related to COVID-19 – and yet facing new challenges because of it – to share their stories with us on the hub. Our aim was to find common themes and report to healthcare leaders with our insights, so we could help close emerging patient safety gaps as the health and care system prioritised COVID-19.
Later that month, we published our first blog on the potential impact of COVID-19 on patient safety, outlining where we thought the pandemic would have the biggest impact on patient safety.
As the year progressed and we identified different risks to patient safety that were exposed by the pandemic, we urged:
As our work in this area progressed, in May, we held a webinar with HealthPlusCare, titled ‘Patient safety: Time for questions? Non COVID-19 care and treatment’. Over 500 participants, including clinicians and patients, joined our discussion on the impact of the pandemic on non COVID-19 care and treatment.
We used feedback from the discussion to inform our submission to the Health and Social Care Select Committee’s Inquiry, ‘Delivering Core NHS and Care Services during the Pandemic and Beyond’. Many issues we raised were highlighted in their report, published at the start of October.
As 2020 comes to a close and we move into the new year, the pandemic continues to hugely impact health and social care. We remain an independent voice for patient safety in this area, bringing attention to patient safety issues the pandemic exposes or creates, and engaging with partners to call for the NHS and Government to act urgently and reduce avoidable harm.