The Health Foundation Healthcare Leaders Panel: Survey report 1

Patient safety

September 2004

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Key points

  • Just over half of the UK’s healthcare leaders thought the quality of care that their organisation provides to patients had improved over the past year.
  • 72% of healthcare leaders thought 'there are some good things in our healthcare system, but fundamental changes are needed to make it work better'.
  • Patient safety was seen as a serious problem for the health service.
  • Healthcare leaders divided evenly as to whether human error or system error was the greater cause of patient safety incidents in their own organisations. However clinicians divided two-to-one in saying that system error was the main factor.
  • Asked to say how patient safety can best be improved, the three most beneficial measures were considered to be:
    • an organisational culture that encourages reporting and avoids blame
    • more emphasis on infection control, including hand-washing
    • better communication between staff and patients.
  • Most clinicians considered that records of patient safety incidents should be kept confidential within the community of health organisations. Non-clinical managers divided evenly between this view and the belief that the information should be shared in some form with the general public.
  • Most clinicians said that patients and their families should be told when there has been a breakdown of patient safety as part of their care, if they have suffered harm. Most non-clinical managers said patients should be told, even if they have suffered no harm.

In July 2004 YouGov started recruiting a panel of senior healthcare managers and clinicians throughout the United Kingdom on behalf of The Health Foundation.

This is a report of YouGov’s first survey, conducted online between 11 and 23 August 2004 among 513 members of the panel.

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