Making Safe Care Even Safer in Scotland

Source: Scottish Government

Published Tuesday, 15 September, 2009 – 11:21


Glasgow Royal Infirmary pilot is ‘making safe care, even safer” said Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish Health Secretary. A pilot project – part of the Scottish Patient Safety Programme – is reducing central line infections, lengths of stay and cases of pneumonia among critically ill patients at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

Staff in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) have developed a series of small-scale improvements that have had dramatic effects.

The longest period the unit has now gone between infections is 300 days and average length of stay in the ICU has been cut by a day and a half – meaning some of the most ill patients are improving more quickly.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon met staff at the ICU during a visit today as part of national Patient Safety Month.

Ms Sturgeon said:

“Patients in Intensive Care Units like the GRI’s are the most critically ill anywhere in our NHS, and they benefit from the most safe and sophisticated one-to-one care available.

“But even here, improvements can always be made and ICU staff at Glasgow Royal are making a very safe department even safer. Small steps like monitoring the routines used to change central lines are achieving remarkable progress.

“In hospitals across the country, the Scottish Patient Safety Programme is driving up standards of care, cleanliness and treatment and the ICU at Glasgow Royal is a fantastic example of how that’s translating into real benefit for patients.”

Andy Crawford, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde‘s Head of Clinical Governance, said:

“NHS staff in Glasgow and Clyde have been working to improve the quality and safety of patient care for over ten years as part of clinical governance, but this new programme is unique in that it has helped us create more practically focussed ways to improve. Importantly it has engaged the very visible commitment of many staff, from the chief executive to doctors and nurses seeing patients, and made patient safety the main subject on our agenda.

“The early results from 31 of our hospital wards taking part in the programme are very encouraging. The teams measure their practice and from this evidence they are showing that they can more reliably deliver care and more effectively communicate with each other. In some instances these changes have led to clear results such as reductions in infections or other complications associated with ventilators, central lines, surgery, peripheral venous lines and anticoagulant medicines.

“Although it’s still early days it is clear that this programme has the potential to make a real difference to patients and we will continue to roll it out across our hospitals over the next three years.”

Dr. Frances Elliot, Chief Executive of NHS Quality Improvement Scotland, said:

“Patient safety is at the centre of our role in supporting NHS boards in Scotland to improve the quality of patient care and we welcome patient safety month and its focus on highlighting the importance of safety in all areas of the NHS.

“As the managers and co-ordinators of the Scottish Patient Safety Programme, we can see tangible progress in the work done to date and we look forward to working with NHS boards to further improve the care patients receive in the NHS in Scotland.”

The world-leading Scottish Patient Safety Programme aims to reduce hospital mortality by 15 per cent and adverse incidents by 30 per cent. It is achieving this through a whole range of projects in Scottish hospitals.

The Scottish Patient Safety Programme works by giving front-line staff permission to make changes to the way they work.

What is done to change the culture might be as simple as a chart on the wall where staff tick off carrying out each process one by one to make sure they are done each time.

Projects are trialled in individual health boards before being rolled out across Scotland. For example, all hospitals have implemented executive walkrounds, a pre-operative surgical checklist to reduce complications in the operating theatre and strategies to reduce infections in critical care units.

It is now planned to roll out the programme’s principles to other areas of the NHS including mental health and primary care.

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