Safety culture: What is it and how do we monitor and measure it?

A summary of learning from a Health Foundation roundtable

March 2013

Thumbnail

Key points

  • In the absence of a strong evidence base that describes the mechanism by which culture directly affects outcomes, safety culture is best seen as a precondition for change rather than an agent of change.
  • Understanding of safety culture can vary between the frontline, management and executive levels of a healthcare organisation.
  • Safety culture and climate assessment tools provide a practical device for stimulating conversations among staff – the creation of ‘safe spaces’ can help to surface safety issues. However, the temptation to impose the use of these tools for performance measurement or compliance purposes must be avoided.

We hosted a roundtable event to discuss what is understood as ‘safety culture’, why it is important and how it can be measured and monitored. This roundtable was held as part of the Health Foundation's work to lead a step-change in thinking about patient safety.

Patient safety experts from academia, public policy, quality improvement and frontline care came together to share their knowledge and learning in order to build understanding in this area, and to recommend some practical next steps. This event report summarises the discussion and identifies themes that should be explored further.

Further reading

Journal article

Measurement and monitoring of safety: impact and challenges of putting a conceptual framework into practice

Background The Measurement and Monitoring of Safety Framework provides a conceptual model to guide organisations in assessing...

You might also like...

Working paper

A descriptive analysis of health care use by high cost, high need patients in England

This paper explores health care use by the top 5% of users of primary and secondary care services by cost.

Blog

Fixing the UK's broken social care system

The decisions we make about technology today will have implications for the entire social care system, says Lydia Nicholas, f...

Blog

Artificial intelligence in the NHS: getting the priorities right

The NHS’s new AI lab needs to focus on the needs of patients and the health system, argue Adam Steventon, Sarah Deeny, Josh K...

Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101

Work with us

We look for talented and passionate individuals as everyone at the Health Foundation has an important role to play.

View current vacancies
Artboard 101 copy 2

The Q Community

Q is an initiative connecting people with improvement expertise across the UK.

Find out more