Feature BMJ Awards 2014

Berwick Patient Safety Team: making the NHS a safer place

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g2404 (Published 28 March 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g2404
  1. Anne Gulland, freelance journalist
  1. 1London, UK
  1. annecgulland{at}yahoo.co.uk

Five teams have been shortlisted for the Berwick award for improving patient safety. Anne Gulland describes their work

Professor Don Berwick, founder of the Institute of Health Improvement in the United States, was asked to review patient safety in the NHS after the Francis inquiry into the failings at Mid Staffordshire hospital trust. His report, published last August, has just 10 recommendations, including abandoning the blame culture, engaging with patients and carers, promoting transparency, and ensuring a culture of lifelong learning.1 The Berwick Patient Safety Team Award honours teams that are already working to make the NHS safer by doing what Berwick asks, meeting at least two of the recommendations in his report.

Pursuing zero by building sustainable foundations for safety, Great Ormond Street Hospital Foundation NHS Trust

Striving for zero harm has long been a mantra adopted by the airline and construction industries, but when Great Ormond Street Hospital launched its drive for this in 2007 it was a new concept in healthcare.

Peter Lachman, deputy medical director at the hospital, who had a year’s sabbatical at the Institute of Health Improvement, said that many people thought the trust was mad to even attempt it. Lachman describes the “zero harm, no waits, no waste” programme as a whole system change that aims to embed a culture of change and safety throughout the organisation. It is led by 10 senior members of staff, who are given a day a week to work on patient safety. Staff work to achieve a range of outcomes, including to reduce unnecessary delays, maintain high levels of medication safety, eliminate hospital acquired infections, and recognise and respond to the unexpected deterioration of children.

The programme is arranged around four of Berwick’s key recommendations: patients and carers are at the heart of the change; there are appropriate numbers of staff in place to care for patients; learning is promoted throughout …

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