2020: The conversation changed but our goals did not

A blog by Helen Hughes, Chief Executive

  • 1st December 2020

2020 has been a strange year, and a very difficult one for many around the world. Along with organisations everywhere, we at Patient Safety Learning have had to adapt how we work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Though our working environments and areas of focus have changed, our goals as a charity have not. We continue to be an independent voice, committed to working in partnership to improve patient safety.

Influencing systemic change at an international level

Through our six foundations for safer care, as outlined in A Blueprint for Action, we influence systemic change, in the UK and internationally, by:

  • Calling for action to improve safety in all of the six foundations
  • Proposing new health and social care policy, and responding critically to policy consultations
  • Sharing learning on patient and staff safety in all areas of health and social care
  • Working directly with staff and patients on areas of safety that are the most important to them
  • Identifying and contributing to campaigns for patient and staff safety
  • Collaborating and creating safety partnerships with healthcare organisations, patient groups and patient safety leaders
  • Developing organisational safety improvement programmes, including new standards for patient safety and an associated accreditation framework

Central to all of our activities is the hub, our learning platform for patient safety, offering a powerful combination of tools, resources, stories, ideas, case studies and good practice to anyone who wants to make the care environment safer for patients and staff.

the hub has flourished as a platform for patient safety

the hub was launched at our Patient Safety Learning conference in October 2019. We have seen incredible growth of the hub over the course of 2020. To date, the hub has received over 111,000 visits, over 77,000 unique visitors, over 290,000 page views and had multiple conversations taking place in our Communities area. It offers 4,000 knowledge resources and has 1,250 members from 500 different organisations. Members come from 41 different countries, with visitors spanning 174 countries.

We are encouraged by these numbers and the continued growth of the hub. But perhaps more than this, we are proud of the relationships the hub is facilitating, the campaigns it is supporting, and the application of knowledge and improvements in patient safety that are happening as a result.

Here are just a few examples:

  • After a theatre nurse spoke up about an unsafe event she had witnessed, instead of the trust taking action, managers blocked her shifts. After sharing her story anonymously on the hub, the patient safety issue was highlighted more widely and we supported the nurse to begin working with the CQC to initiate an investigation.
  • In the hub Communities area, patients are giving accounts of their experiences and helping to highlight patient safety issues, such as painful hysteroscopies and a lack of information and support for Long COVID patients.
  • Trusts, such as the Homerton University NHS Foundation Trust, are sharing new initiatives and good practices that have gone on to be successfully implemented in other trusts and organisations.

Jonathan Hazan, Chair of the Board of Trustees, comments:

“Patient Safety Learning is still a new organisation and it is significant that we have been able to achieve so much influence in such a short time. Much of this is a result of the effectiveness ofthe hub as a platform for spreading ideas and actions, and I would like to thank patients, healthcare workers and all our other partners for contributing to our story.”

So, what patient safety issues did we focus on and influence in 2020?

As well as the hub, we published 38 new blogs on our website, highlighting patient safety issues, responding to consultations, promoting World Patient Safety Day and reporting back on workshops, webinars and collaborations.

We have been engaging with partners to call for the NHS and Government to act urgently and reduce avoidable harm in the following areas:

  • The impact of the pandemic on patient safety, especially in non COVID care
  • Advice and support for people living with Long COVID
  • Painful hysteroscopies
  • Staff safety
  • Learning from, and implementing the recommendations of, the Cumberlege Review

Look out for our new blog series this month

Over the coming weeks, we will be publishing five mini blogs on each of these topics, accompanied by short videos from members of the Patient Safety Learning team. Our aim with this series is to give you an insight into the work we’ve been doing in 2020, how we are making progress with our goal of improving patient safety and how we plan to build on this work in the future.

Helen blog image


A platform for anyone with an interest in patient safety to share and learn from one another. Learn more.

Sign up to our newsletter