How to have your patient safety cake and eat it!

Dame Jacqueline Docherty, Chair of ICHP’s Patient Safety Programme Board, reflects on patient safety achievements in 2017 and introduces our programme for this year….

First, Happy New Year!

You may have heard the famous idiom, ‘you can’t have your cake and eat it’, meaning it’s unreasonable to expect to have two things that are incompatible at the same time. An example is the idea that you can’t improve patient safety, and spend less on staffing levels at the same time. However, I want to share an experience that shows that in patient safety you can have your cake and eat it and that patient safety does not necessarily have to be expensive!

Eat your cake and have it

One of ICHP’s past successes is a Daily Patient Safety Brief (DPSB) initiated by the Quality Team at London North West University Healthcare Trust (LNWH). The DPSB was a simple idea based on daily meetings of ward mangers sharing information and providing peer accountability on pressing issues. This led to a 30% reduction in annual agency staff spend without compromising care quality. In fact, a 50% reduction in harmful patient falls and a reduction in pressure ulcers was achieved at the same time. Two things stand out for me in this anecdote. The first is that the project was initiated and implemented by staff at LNWH, so it was a demand-led project. This year ICHP continues to allocate more resources to demand led partner projects. This means you can identify a patient safety project of interest and submit a proposal for ICHP funding and collaboration. If your department, service, or organisation have an idea and you wish to collaborate with ICHP, please contact  to discuss your proposal.

The second highlight is that it demonstrates how we can challenge long held misconceptions and achieve better safer outcomes for our patients when we work together across the sector. Let me share other successes of partner collaboration with ICHP in 2017.

ICHP developed a sepsis dashboard with input from local clinicians. The dashboard has the capacity to help practitioners to track and improve the quality/impact of care provided to patients in the sector. This tool is being adopted by the National Patient Safety Collaborative and has received recognition from several national bodies including NHS England, NHS Improvements, the National Quality Board, NHS Resolutions and CQC.

ICHP also supported the Royal Brompton and Harefield Foundation Trust’s Surveillance Team represented by Melissa Rochon, to win two national Patient Safety Awards in Best Public Product Innovation and in Infection Control.

Finally, ICHP has looked to further embed learning about patient safety by awarding William Gage (Imperial College Healthcare Trust) and Jeni Mwebaze (Central and North-West London NHS Trust) ICHP MSc patient safety bursaries. These bursaries aim to facilitate their personal professional development and increase the long- term capacity to keep patients safe in North West London.

ICHP will be offering more MSc Patient Safety bursaries later this year. Staff across the sector are welcome to join the application process when it opens around May.

Opportunities to participate in 2018

In addition to demand led projects, there are further opportunities to collaborate with ICHP in 2018 on our patient safety programme. These include:

  • The development of a Human Factors faculty of trainers to provide Human Factors training to staff across the sector. This has now attracted interest from six providers in the sector. If you are interested in joining the faculty or have an interest in Human Factors, please contact the team at ICHP.
  • Staff at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Foundation Trust, The Hillingdon Hospital Foundation Trust and LNWH, will have an opportunity to participate in a Safety Attitude Survey (SAQ) which will help define future priority areas in safety culture in North West London. I encourage you to participate in this anonymous survey open to all staff when it is conducted in February/March.

Collaborating in the year ahead

As the chair of ICHP’s Patient Safety Programme Board, my ambition this year is for greater collaboration and more impact to keep our patients safer across the sector (and help to achieve more examples of eating our patient safety cake and having it!).

I would like to thank staff and organisations across the sector who collaborated with ICHP last year, particularly members of the Patient Safety Programme Board who consistently attended meetings and kept the programme on course. We have expanded and strengthened the membership of the Board and I look forward to further achievements in 2018.




Jacqueline Docherty DBE

Chair, ICHP Patient Safety Programme Board

CEO, London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust