Your voice matters: how it’s shaping our work in non Covid-19 care and patient and staff safety

  • 14th May 2020

Top L-R: Professor Maureen Baker, Professor Mike Bewick. Bottom L-R: Helen Hughes, Dean Russell MP

From the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK, Patient Safety Learning has been working with others in healthcare – from patients and staff to healthcare leaders and politicians – to identify the impact the pandemic is having on non Covid-19 treatment and care, and on patient safety.

One of the ways we are seeking to identify and address system issues that are causing avoidable harm is through our #safetystories campaign, which we launched in March. We have been asking the public to share their stories with us on our shared learning platform, the hub, to find out what impact the pandemic is having on them and their loved ones.

Our webinar: over 500 participants voice questions and concerns around non Covid-19 care

Most recently, we hosted a webinar, in partnership with HealthPlusCare, titled ‘Patient safety: Time for questions? Non Covid-19 care and treatment’. The webinar took place on Wednesday 6 May, with a panel consisting of:

  • Professor Maureen Baker CBE, Chair of the Professional Records Standards Body and past Chair of the Royal College of GPs
  • Professor Mike Bewick, Chair of CECOPS and past Deputy Medical Director to Sir Bruce Keogh at NHS England
  • Dr Jane Carthey, Human Factors and Patient Safety Specialist
  • Mike Fairbourn, Chair of ABHI Patient Safety Working Group and BD Country General Manager
  • Dean Russell MP, MP for Watford and member of the Health and Social Care Select Committee
  • Claire Cox, Patient Safety Learning’s Associate Director of Patient Safety and Critical Care Outreach Nurse
  • Helen Hughes, Patient Safety Learning’s Chief Executive

We are delighted with the success of the webinar, with 542 participants. Those who attended represented stakeholders from across the health and care system, and were well-engaged, making good use of the chat, Q&A and polls.

Top highlights and takeaways from the webinar

Before the webinar took place, we asked our panellists to share their three key patient safety issues in relation to non Covid-19 care and treatment. This, along with 80 questions raised by participants during the webinar, led to a very lively discussion. Many good questions were asked and points raised. Some of the most interesting included:

  • The public avoiding hospitals and treatment for non Covid-19 care due to fears of Covid-19. This, in turn, led to a discussion on the importance of good communication between healthcare and patients, and how to ensure that non Covid-19 patients are not exposed to Covid-19 and to provide patients with assurance.
  • Although non Covid-19 patients need to be encouraged to seek medical help when they need it, an increase of patients could place demands on an already stretched service. An example was given of when patients are presenting to GPs, they might not be able to refer patients for diagnostic tests, x-rays etc.
  • We also discussed how we transition to new models of care/ways of working as we start to deliver the ‘backlog’ of care that hasn’t been provided during the pandemic, meet the rehabilitation needs of patients recovering from Covid-19 and continue to support new patients with Covid-19, especially within the community.
  • The opportunity and need to harness technology and automation to improve efficiency and safety.
  • Mental health risks for both patients and staff.
  • Professor Baker said the pandemic has potentially created an “error-provoking context” in all areas of care and treatment. The pressures of operating under pandemic conditions, changing the way we work and staff tiredness can all contribute to risks to staff and patient safety.
  • Incident reporting and learning in real-time. How are we learning from unsafe care right now?

The result of panellists’ and participants’ contributions led to rich discussions that could have kept us going for hours! We wish we’d had more time to respond, however we have a record of the webinar’s discussions and are using the questions and points that were raised to shape our work programme. We’re also making contact with those who asked questions we didn’t get the chance to address. In future webinars, we will allow more time to highlight those issues raised during the discussion and to respond to questions.

If you couldn’t make the webinar, you can watch the video.

Your feedback informed our submission to the Health and Social Care Select Committee

We used the discussions that took place at the webinar to inform our submission to the Health and Social Care Select Committee’s Inquiry into ‘Delivering Core NHS and Care Services during the Pandemic and Beyond’.

Our response to the Inquiry:

  • considered the key themes and issues emerging in non Covid-19 care and treatment which we’ve heard directly from staff and patients.
  • shared insights we have gathered in regard to the balance between Covid-19 and ‘ordinary’ health care, specifically home births, social care and rapid hospital discharge.
  • considered the long-term patient safety challenges as we aim to transition from the pandemic back to ‘normal care’ and towards a ‘safe restart’.
  • looked at the opportunities to improve health and social care as services normalise, increasing accessibility to services, sharing knowledge and placing a new focus on staff safety.
  • concluded with a call for the Committee to recommend to the Government that the redesign of health and social care has patient and staff safety at its core, and we provided specific details around what this should look like.

You can read our response in full.

We look forward to seeing how the Inquiry progresses and will let you know what impact our contribution has made.

How you can help shape our future webinars?

Following the webinar, we’ve gained a deeper understanding of the key issues front-line staff and patients are facing and have heard many more great ideas around how to address these issues and improve patient and staff safety.

Due to its success, and the clear need to spend more time addressing the issues raised and identifying further issues, we plan to hold more webinars with HealthPlusCare. We want this to be more participative, with more time for discussion. We’d really value your contribution and we want to hear from you so we can know how best to develop our webinar programme. We will use the programme to highlight current safety issues, identify what action is needed and ultimately influence policy, resources and change.

So that we can determine what issues need to be addressed urgently, can you spare a few minutes to tell us about the issue/s you are most concerned about? Please share your views with us. You will need to be registered on the hub to participate. Registration is quick, easy and free -

If you would prefer to email us with your views, please send them to [email protected]


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

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