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Blog: How can we create a just culture?

Posted by Aidan Fowler 4 months ago

I am delighted that ‘just culture’ has been selected as a key discussion topic for Talk Health and Care, giving staff an important opportunity to share their views, ideas and reflections on what is happening on the frontline.

In our proposals for a national patient safety strategy for the NHS – which we are currently consulting on until 15 February 2019 – a just culture is identified as a key element that must be embedded across all NHS providers to enable our healthcare service to truly be one that is continuously learning and improving, so we can deliver the safest possible care.  

The NHS is admired around the world as one of the safest and most productive healthcare systems there is. However, we want to make it even safer. Key to doing this is the development of a ‘just culture’ where staff know they will be treated fairly when something goes wrong.

We know that punishing people for making mistakes does not lead to them making fewer mistakes and pushing people to try harder does not improve safety. Instead we should focus on creating systems and processes that support staff to perform their roles as safely as possible. If people know they will not be unfairly blamed, they will be able to be more open and transparent about problems, meaning organisations have a better chance of taking actions that reduce the risk of a patient safety incident happening.

I know from my time as a surgeon that it is difficult to look someone in the eye and say something has gone wrong, but being open is the right thing to do. It is also vital in enabling us to take action to reduce future risks.

Just under a year ago, we released our just culture guide which encourages managers to treat staff involved in a patient safety incident in a consistent, constructive and fair way. We worked with our national partners, regulators and trade unions to get cross system support for this approach. We recognise that this is one small (if still important) part of helping to achieve a just culture. That’s one of the reasons why we are keen to hear from you about what you think stands in the way of a just culture, and what we can do better.

I look forward to reading your comments here

Aidan Fowler is National Director of Patient Safety at NHS Improvement

 *** To leave your comments and ideas join the challenge here ***

This post was edited on Jan 28, 2019 by Adam DHSC

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This post has 3 subscribers

Comments (2)

Netathea says... 4 months ago

There is currently a cultural review happening within Nottinghamshire NHS Foundation Trust. This is a result in the NGO review that was undertaken late in 2018. Please read the review at the National Guardian Website.

 

Adam DHSC says... 4 months ago

Thanks for the information Netathea. I will pass this on to the team at NHS improvement working on this.

Adam

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