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JUL 29/2014

Sign Up to Safety: A guide to the new patient safety initiative

Hospital doctors and nurses are to be encouraged to do everything they can to improve safety standards within their workplace as part of a major new campaign.

Unveiled by health secretary Jeremy Hunt last month, the Sign Up to Safety initiative aims to effect a culture change within the NHS, ensuring it becomes the safest healthcare system anywhere in the world.

With organisations across the country already starting to sign up for the campaign, it is vital that managers and frontline workers alike make themselves aware of how it works and what they will need to do.

What is Sign Up to Safety?
The campaign aims to take a holistic approach to improving the quality of NHS care, embracing principles of openness and transparency to ensure all patients are able to receive harm-free care on every occasion.

Participating organisations will make a number of pledges aimed at ensuring best practice guidelines are followed consistently, with the ultimate goal being to reduce instances of avoidable harm by 50 per cent within the next three years. In doing so, NHS organisations will be able to save around 6,000 lives.

What are the campaign's pledges?
Campaign activities will centre on five key pledges, with participating organisations and individuals to put in place plans of action that can drive improvements that align with these core objectives:

  1. Putting safety first: organisations will take steps to reduce avoidable harm, while making their strategies publicly visible.
  2. Continual learning: Managers and staff will constantly measure and monitor their own safety performance and act on feedback from visitors, thus making their hospitals more resilient to risk.
  3. Embracing honesty: Doctors and nurses will be encouraged to be candid and transparent with patients about their safety policies, particularly when something goes wrong.
  4. Collaboration: Local collaborative learning will be adopted as a key technique to ensure any improvements can be shared across all services.
  5. Offering support: Staff will be provided with the time and support they need to help people understand why things go wrong and how they can be addressed, with any progress being celebrated.

Who is participating in the campaign?
The initiative is being organised and supported by some of the key organisations responsible for overseeing NHS operations, including NHS England, Monitor, the NHS Trust Development Authority, the NHS Litigation Authority, the Care Quality Commission, the NHS Improving Quality and the Department of Health.

A total of 12 NHS trusts agreed to be part of the campaign from day one, with a further seven having signed up in the month since. The project is attracting widespread attention, meaning more organisations are seeking to take part all the time.

How can my organisation get involved?
In order to get involved, healthcare providers are encouraged to visit the official Sign Up to Safety website, where they can learn more about the campaign and find relevant resources, in addition to information on what participating trusts are already doing.

Organisations will be expected to set out the actions they will be taking to in response to the five Sign up to Safety pledges and agree to publish them online, before turning them into a comprehensive plan of action that highlights the specific areas on which they will be concentrating.

They will also need to engage with staff, patients and the local community to ensure the plan reflects the right needs and concerns, while providing regular updates on their progress.

Individuals can also get involved by sharing what they will be doing to support the five pledges online, in exchange for a personalised Sign up to Safety pledge certificate that shows their personal commitment to safety improvements. 

You can visit the Sign Up to Safety website here

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