Today marks the first ever World Patient Safety Day, an initiative by the World Health Organisation to raise awareness of the need to continuously improve patient safety, building on the foundations of a safer culture and safer systems.

The delivery of high-level care is what we do at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust – it’s written into our values.

Patient experience is integral to how we measure the quality of care across our services, and our staff are dedicated to maintaining a caring, safe and excellent environment for the people we serve not just today, but every day.

However, today we will be encouraging everyone to give a visual representation of how seriously we take patient safety by wearing something orange – it could be socks, a shirt or scarf – as well as writing personal pledges on their plans to improve patient safety. We will be sharing them and taking photographs to post on social media throughout the day with the hashtag #WorldPatientSafetyDay.

Marie Crofts, chief nurse at the trust, said: “We are incredibly proud of the care and dedication of our staff in ensuring a safe and supportive patient experience across the range of services we provide.

“Creating a safe environment is the first step in helping our patients to recover and return to the community, when possible. We are continually looking to improve the quality of our services, enabling us to keep our patients safe.”

Supporting patient safety

With an assortment of safeguarding systems in place, our teams are supported by trust leaders, managers and each other in the mission to better serve our communities.

In addition to complying with national improvement projects, we are always implementing new initiatives to reduce risks of preventable harm in all our services. This includes the efforts of our established healthcare improvement centre which enables us to apply a consistent approach to continuous quality improvement by developing the capacity and capability of staff to innovate and make improvements in their own teams.

Below are some of the examples of the improvements being made across the trust:

  • Our trust-wide tissue viability lead, Sarah Gardner, is a key player in the national Legs Matter campaign which draws attention to the seriousness of leg and foot wounds and focuses on staff and patient health. This year the group launched the first Legs Matter Week (June 3-7), and staff at the trust took a stand for the campaign with a mobile information bus and conference. More recently, Oxford Health has also joined the national collaborative on tissue viability.
  • FallSafe is a care bundle approach to the risk assessment of patients and is designed to prevent patient falls in hospitals. All our community hospital wards have adapted FallSafe and have begun quality improvement projects to ensure these are embedded in common practice. There have already been tangible results, including an increase in falls awareness and a marked improvement in the taking of vital measurements such as lying and standing blood pressure.
  • This month our Health and Wellbeing team is introducing Schwartz Rounds – multidisciplinary monthly forums designed for staff to discuss and reflect on the emotional and social challenges associated with working in healthcare. These forums have been known to boost morale and build stronger relationships and support networks within teams, which in turn enhances the level of care provided. The first Schwartz Round is set to be held on Thursday, September 26.
  • We are using the model of ‘Safewards’ in some of our mental health wards, which allows staff and patients to build stronger relationships and reduce levels of conflict. This includes small changes such as the introduction of folders where people can share their hobbies, likes and dislikes to get to know each other better.
  • Oxford Health is working on improvements to quality of end of life care planning through a series of workshops around personalisation of care and building staff confidence, as well as the promotion of a specialist end of life care plan. In addition, we have been part of a county-wide health needs analysis for the provision of end of life services which should improve the join up of service provision.
  • Staff are provided with clear incident reporting guidelines and are encouraged to engage with our Freedom to Speak Up Guardian, who provides independent and confidential support to those who wish to raise concerns that could affect patient safety. This dedicated post fosters an environment of listening, openness and learning.
  • Our suicide prevention lead has introduced an updated suicide prevention strategy and workplan to help staff recognise and address risks early on. This came into place at the end of 2018 and is being implemented across the trust.
  • The new national early warning sign tool for sepsis was launched earlier this month, coinciding with World Sepsis Day on September 13. The tool builds on previous editions and focuses on the early recognition of sepsis and immediate escalation when a patient is deteriorating.

Sula Wiltshire, director of quality at Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG), said: “Do no harm’ has always been at the heart of healthcare. However, throughout the world, occasionally accidental harm occurs to patients. OCCG supports providers to reduce patient harm and to make improvements in safety and quality.

“We welcome the launch of World Patient Safety Day and are in full support of increasing awareness of patient safety.”