The Health Foundation is an independent charity working to continuously improve the quality of heatlhcare in the UK

Safer Clinical Systems

In brief

People are often at their most vulnerable when they are accessing healthcare. They put their trust in the hands of the clinical staff caring for them. But how do they know they will be safe?

A million people use healthcare services each day and the vast majority are treated without incident. However, studies suggest that one in 10 patients admitted to hospital will experience some form of harm during their stay. In nearly every case the problem is caused by unreliable healthcare systems and processes. That’s why the Health Foundation’s Safer Clinical Systems programme is testing and demonstrating improvements to healthcare systems to make care safer.

Safer Clinical Systems is a programme that takes a fresh and proactive approach to safety improvement. Rather than waiting until a problem has occurred, the programme helps healthcare teams proactively identify potential safety breaches, enabling them to build better, safer healthcare systems.

Phase one of this programme began in 2008 with four project teams working to identify problems with current clinical systems and developing and testing improvement interventions.

Phase two of this programme began in October 2011. We are now supporting eight healthcare organisations to implement and test the defined approach developed during phase one. This work will focus on improving systems in two key areas: clinical handovers and prescribing.

The programme is funded by the Health Foundation with technical support provided by a consortium from the University of Warwick.

I read with interest some of the projects in the Safer Clinical Systems pilots especially in terms of handovers.

I have been involved in a project addressing a Regional Abbreviations Policy for Northern Ireland and would be interested to hear if this has been a topic that has or will be considered in any of the phases of work through the Safer Clinical Systems ?
Dear Brenda

We have received the following note from our technical provider delivering this programme:

The issues of abbreviations has not been an aspect of SCS. It is recognised that different people use different abbreviations and the SCS approach would suggest that ‘elimination’ of the risk ( i.e. not using abbreviations) is safer than the mitigation of an approved list”.

We hope that helps answer your query.

Raheel Anwar
Programme Officer
The Health Foundation
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