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Professionalising patient safety? Findings from a mixed-methods formative evaluation of the patient safety specialist role in the English National Health Service

journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-10, 10:15 authored by Mohammad Farhad PeerallyMohammad Farhad Peerally

Objectives: While safety-dedicated professional roles are common in other high-risk industries, in healthcare they have tended to have a relatively narrow, technical focus. We present initial findings from a mixed-methods evaluation of a novel, senior role with responsibility for leadership of safety in English National Health Service organisations: the patient safety specialist. Methods: We carried out interviews with those responsible for designing, developing and overseeing the introduction of the role, and a national survey of current patient safety specialists. Data collection and analysis focused on the rationale for the role, its theory of change, and experiences of putting the theory into practice. Results: Interview participants articulated a clear theory of change for the role, highlighting ways in which the focus of the role, the seniority, responsibility and influence of roleholders, and the expertise they brought might result in better safety management and speedier implementation of initiatives to manage risk and improve safety. Survey respondents had mixed experiences of the role to date, particularly in terms of material and symbolic support from their organisations. Together, findings from the two datasets indicated the need for a careful balance between strategic and operational activities to secure impact for patient safety specialists while ensuring they were embedded in the realities of clinical work as done—a balance that not all roleholders found easy to achieve. Conclusions: The vision for the patient safety specialist role is clear, and supported by a plausible account of how the work of roleholders might result in the intended objectives. The degree to which specialists are supported and resourced to deliver on these ambitions, however, varies markedly across organisations. 

History

Author affiliation

College of Life Sciences Population Health Sciences

Version

  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Published in

Journal of Health Services Research and Policy

Publisher

SAGE Publications

issn

1355-8196

eissn

1758-1060

Copyright date

2024

Publisher DOI

Notes

Embargo until publication

Language

en

Deposited by

Dr Mohammad Farhad Peerally

Deposit date

2024-06-10

Rights Retention Statement

  • No

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