Improving patient safety culture – a practical guide

Improving patient safety culture – a practical guide, brings together existing approaches to shifting safety culture as a resource to support teams to understand their safety culture and how to approach improving it.

It is intended to be used across health and social care to support everyone to improve the safety culture in their organisation or area. The guide specifically focuses on:

  • teamwork
  • communication
  • just culture
  • psychological safety
  • promoting diversity and inclusive behaviours
  • civility.

The guide can be accessed as an interactive PDF or as a web-accessible version.

The guide has been produced by NHS England, supported by the Health innovation network , as part of the National Patient Safety Improvement Programmes.

It builds on the NHS People Plan which recognised the importance of an inclusive and compassionate culture to ensure that we have the best care that we can. This supports one of the foundations of the NHS patient safety strategy, and the guide can be used along with examples from the Safety culture: learning from best practice (2022).

Using the guide

Organisations should support their teams to use the guide to be curious and learn about their local safety culture.

Teams should use it to find a way to start to improve their culture that is most relevant to their local context. It will support teams to explore different approaches to help them to create windows into their daily work to help them to understand their local safety culture.

A supportive patient safety culture enables individuals to openly talk about and raise patient safety concerns, without fear of blame, reprimand or intimidation, ensuring teams ,and the broader NHS, can learn from patient safety events to make care safer. It helps to shift to a just and restorative culture where the focus is on understanding and learning. This maximises opportunities for learning, so underlying issues around safe systems and ways of working can be identified and addressed.

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