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Scottish NHS safety drive

Cabinet Secretary urges continued focus on safety.

Scotland’s NHS must continue to “relentlessly pursue its drive to be the safest in the world”, Alex Neil will say today.

The Health Secretary will be speaking at a conference bringing together clinicians and managers from across all sections of the NHS to discuss how to go on improving patient safety.

Introduced in 2008, the Scottish Patient Safety Programme, led by Healthcare Improvement Scotland, has already dramatically reduced mortality rates in hospitals and earned praise from health professionals across the world.

Mr Neil said:

“The care provided in Scotland’s NHS is now safer than ever before. I am proud of our safety programme and proud of the difference it has made in our NHS.

“Hospital Acquired Infections like C-Diff and MRSA have been dramatically reduced.

“The mortality ratio in our hospitals is 14 per cent lower. That means lives saved across the NHS, every single year of the programme.

“Over 1,700 leadership walkrounds have taken place since the start of the programme. Many have led to simple but effective improvements within wards and clinical areas. There has been a 25.5 per cent reduction in surgical mortality between 2008 and 2014, the time in which the surgical checklist was introduced.

“Staff across the NHS have adopted the safety programme with professionalism, dedication and commitment. They have made it work and delivered results.

“But my message is that we must continue to relentlessly pursue this drive to make Scotland’s NHS the safest in the world. Our NHS is a vast, complex organisation, caring for millions of people every year. Getting it right every single time, and providing the safest, highest quality care possible, is our goal and we must go on working ceaselessly to deliver it on behalf of the people of Scotland.

“That is why we must renew our focus on safety. For example last year I had the privilege to visit Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and see their Hospital Safety Huddle – a morning meeting of all those involved in providing care to plan the day, identify risks and challenges and work collectively and collaboratively to deliver the best care possible.

“I am delighted to see that that concept is being spread across Scotland, first in all three paediatric hospitals and more recently in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and both of the hospitals in Ayrshire and Arran. 

“This is a fine example of the type of best practice I want to see rolled out to all acute hospitals in Scotland.”

Ruth Glassborow, Director of Safety and Improvement at Healthcare Improvement Scotland said:

"Healthcare Improvement Scotland manage the Scottish Patient Safety Programme and we are delighted with the progress being made across the length and breadth of the country. 

“From an initial focus on adults in hospitals the programme now extends to primary care, mental health, maternity, neonates and children’s services. All with a focus on ensuring services are as safe as they possibly can be for every person, every time."

Notes To Editors

Progress on patient safety includes:

  • The HSMR (Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratio) for Scotland has decreased by 14.4 per cent between October-December 2007 and January-March 2014. Twenty nine hospitals participating in the SPSP have shown a reduction in HSMR since October-December 2007, thirteen of these had a reduction in excess of 15 per cent and five showed a reduction in excess of 20 per cent. These include:
    • NHS Ayrshire & Arran’s Crosshouse Hospital – 33.3 per cent
    • NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Southern General Hospital – 21.3 per cent
    • NHS Tayside’s Ninewells Hospital – 20.9 per cent
    • NHS Lanarkshire’s Wishaw General Hospital – 21.2 per cent
    • NHS Western Isles’ Western Isles Hospital – 22.6 per cent. 
  • Leadership walkrounds allow leaders including executive and non-executive directors and frontline staff to discuss and improve barriers to reliably delivering safe care. Over 1,700 leadership walkrounds have taken place since the start of the SPSP, many of which have led to simple but effective improvements within wards and clinical areas.
  • There is widespread implementation of the surgical brief and pause (also known as the World Health Organisation (WHO) surgical safety checklist). Over 8000 surgical pauses were reported across Scotland for the month of March 2014. There is a 25.5 per cent reduction in surgical mortality between 2008 and 2014. 
  • Ward safety briefs improve communication and situational aware for teams in general wards. 5000 safety briefs were reported across Scotland in the month of March 2014.


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