Let's walk the talk

Posted by CEO Blog on 10 November 2016 |

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I’ve talked about patient safety in previous blogs, and there’s a reason why it features so regularly. Providing the best and safest care for our patients sits at the core of what we do. That’s why we work in health and that’s why we come to work each day to provide the best care and experience possible. Next week (31 October – 4 November) marks patient safety week at CM Health, and while there is a range of activities planned, patient safety should be a priority every day – 24/7.   The theme for this year’s national patient safety week, run by the Health Quality & Safety Commission is ‘Let’s Talk’, however CM Health is taking it a step further by saying ‘Let’s Walk the Talk’, which means doing what we say we will when it comes to safety, quality and experience.   I’m a firm believer that we need to lead by example and I’ve seen this demonstrated in some of our patient safety initiatives within our hospital and out in the community. However patient safety is a moving feast and we need to keep raising the bar when it comes to ensuring our patients receive the best care, every day. I’m joined by David Hughes, Clinical Director for patient safety, who shares his thoughts about the future of patient safety for CM Health.

Patient safety isn’t a new concept, and everyone who works in health does the best job they can to keep the people under their care safe from avoidable harm.   I’ve been involved with patient safety since 2004, however, I’ve noticed an increased awareness of safety initiatives over the past few years.   In 2010 CM Health launched a pioneering patient safety programme which focused on a range of initiatives such as hand hygiene, pressure injuries, medication safety, just to name a few. Many of these initiatives still continue today.   CM Health has also participated in a range of regional and national programmes and is seen as a leader in many areas of quality improvement.

The range of activity happening in the patient safety space shows the huge desire and commitment from health professionals to make a difference. While progress has been steady over the years, I truly believe we have built up a quality and safety programme, which sets high standards for patient care at CM Health. One of our many ‘bright spots’ includes the Pressure Injury programme which is leading the way in reducing the severity and number of hospital-acquired pressure injuries. Over the past six years, pressure injuries have gone from 10.4% in 2009 to 1.76% in 2016. This means less suffering for the patient, less time in hospital and less costs.

However, most of our quality and safety work is still primarily focused on hospital care and we know that quality and safety issues also arise wherever patients are receiving care, be that in the hospital, at home, in an age-related, residential care facility or in a general practice setting. Many of the issues that need to be addressed will be similar in different settings, for example, the need to minimise harm from medications, pressure injuries and falls, etc. So how can we spread some of the learnings from the hospital out to the community? I believe the first step is taking a holistic view of patient safety, quality and experience across the whole organisation and health system. This will then help identify what we need to invest our money in and what will have the most impact. If we take the learnings from the hospital we know that investing in upskilling, communication, resourcing our front line staff and providing them with time to use those resources works well.

We can also learn from some of the work happening in our community, in particular, the Safety in Practice programme, a quality improvement initiative that offers GPs several options for quality improvement. For example, clinics can choose to focus on results handling, warfarin prescribing, medication reconciliation, opioid prescribing, cervical smears and a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. More than 50 GP clinics have taken part in the programme so far, with another 41 practices signed up this year.

Most of all we can learn from our patients. I was at a conference recently and one of the themes was about teaching doctors about safety and quality. One of the presenters commented that we had been working on quality for a few years now, however, there had been some limitations to the progress that was being made. He reflected on the fact that we needed to move from a production model of health to a service model and the way to do that was through co-design. That means sitting down with health professionals, patients and families and educating people about patient safety so everyone can learn together.

Whatever way we proceed we need to continue to keep the patient at the centre of care. And we need to work together and make it easier for staff to provide the best and safest care, every day. Patient Safety week is about raising awareness of the work being done and the part you can play in providing safe care. Please take the time to check out the activities on offer next week. We will be profiling some of our patient safety bright spots, running competitions and talking to staff and patients about what they can do to stay safe and well. Information can be found on SouthNET Patient Safety.

David and Geraint