Chief executive's blog - 18 March 2014
In my personal blog, I will keep you up to date on what is happening at the Trust, sharing what I think we are doing well and what we can improve.
Fiona Dalton, chief executive
We know that across the world, about one in ten patients experience unintentional harm whilst in hospital. It's a shocking statistic, and whilst many of these patients experience only very minor harm, some are significantly affected and a small number tragically die.
Healthcare is a complicated and risky business. But often when things go wrong in hospitals across the world it's not because the patient was particularly sick, or the operation was particularly complicated, it's because the systems and processes weren't good enough and allowed a basic human error to occur.
This is why I'm such a fan of the WHO safety check list. It's impressive that such a simple process - the team calmly double-checking everything together and planning for the procedure they're about to do - has been proven to save lives across the world. It demonstrates that making sure the basics are in place allows the team to then get on with the difficult and sometimes very risky work in a safer environment.
And we know that avoidable harm is very expensive. Adverse events are estimated to cost the NHS £2 billion a year in extra hospital days alone.
So really every week should be patient safety week! But last week was the international official patient safety week, and as this issue is one that I am passionate about, it was great to talk to staff, patients and carers across the hospital about what we are doing to make care safer.
On G9 I talked to some of the nurses, junior doctors, occupational therapists and the housekeeper who were caring for their elderly patients. I saw the particular challenges which the staff face in terms of balancing the desire to promote independence for their patients, with also trying to reduce the risk of falls. In particular, one of the issues that we talked about was slippers, and how better designed and better fitting slippers could make a real difference in reducing falls. I'm pleased that we're trialling a new type of slipper on the acute medical unit and hope that this will show an improvement.
Co-incidentally, the next day Ellen, one of the education sisters from GICU, emailed me with an idea for different colour slippers or socks for patients who are at a greater risk of falling (like the red tray system for patients who need more help eating). It sounds like a great idea to me, and I was very struck by someone taking the time to email me with an idea which wasn't of great relevance for their own patients, but might help other patients across the Trust.
I thought it was a brilliant example of how, at our best, we are a community of over 9,000 people who are all working together to give the best possible care that we can to our patients.
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