Scaling up patient safety huddles to enhance patient safety and safety culture in hospital wards

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

  • Led by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.
  • Being delivered across four acute hospitals in three NHS trusts in Yorkshire and Humber.
  • Involves the scaling-up of ‘patient safety team huddles’ – a successful approach to reducing harm and improving safety culture on hospital wards, developed and piloted with the Yorkshire and Humber Improvement Academy.
  • ‘Patient safety team huddles’ are daily focused frontline team discussions of specific patient harms, supported by improvement skills, coaching, data visualisation and feedback.

Estimates suggest that approximately 5–10% of hospitalised patients in high-income countries experience harm, and about one third of these harmful events are preventable.

The local, national and international patient safety initiatives that have been designed over the last decade have almost all failed to demonstrate significant impact. Reducing harm across a hospital requires behavioural change at a ward team level.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has developed and piloted ‘patient safety huddles’ to help reduce patient harm. The huddles are led by the most senior clinician and take place at a regular time each day for 10–15 minutes. They provide a non-judgemental, no-fear space in the daily workflow of ward staff. Team members develop confidence to speak up and jointly act on any safety concerns they have. They become a vehicle for ward teams to continually learn and improve.

The initiative also involves the introduction of improvement tools, including regular measurement of progress and celebration of success. Safety culture assessment allows the ward team to reflect on how they work together, and enhances team working.

The pilot of the patient safety huddles demonstrated a reduction in the number of falls, an increase in overall staff morale and improved teamwork.

Four acute hospitals in three NHS trusts (Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust) are now to scale up the intervention to a whole hospital level and determine the benefits and challenges of such an approach.

Contact information

For more information about this project, please contact Dr Alison Cracknell, Consultant in Elderly Care Medicine and Leeds Teaching Hospitals Clinical Lead for Patient Safety, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

About this programme

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Scaling Up Improvement

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