Helping to Improve Patient Safety

Helping to Improve Patient Safety

The Patient Safety Group of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh are delighted to lend our enthusiastic support to the third World Patient Safety Day.

This event, established by the World Health Organization in 2018 and which takes place on the 17 September every year, helps to raise global awareness about key patient safety issues.

Upholding patient safety and ensuring the highest possible standards of patient care have been at the heart of the College’s activity since it was founded over 500 years ago. The Patient Safety Group supports and coordinates all the College’s patient safety initiatives. We have a multidisciplinary membership drawn from all the faculties of the College and including representation from both the wider surgical team and patients themselves.

Over the years, the College has worked hard to develop numerous resources to help improve patient safety. These have taken many forms and include:

Training Courses: These include the highly successful NOTSS Programme and PINTS Course, which aim to educate the whole peri-operative team in the non-technical skills which underpin safe operative surgery, and the innovative ICONS workshop which was developed with patients to provide training in sharing the complex decisions involved in informed consent.

Web-based Resources: These include the Surgical Ward Round Toolkit which aims to reduce errors and improve safety on surgical ward rounds.

Patient Safety Webinars: This very popular 10-part series featured contributions from renowned world experts in the patient safety arena drawn from a wide range of disciplines.

Let’s Talk Surgery Patient Safety Podcasts: These experts have also contributed to the College’s podcast series, allowing more in depth personal discussion on key patient safety topics. All sessions were recorded and remain available to College Members and Fellows on the Education section of our website.

National Campaigns: These include the LetsRemoveit campaign to reduce bullying and undermining, and its resultant detrimental effect on patient safety, in the surgical and dental workplace.

Staff Resilience and Wellbeing: We also recognize that staff resilience and wellbeing is a major factor in helping to ensure safe patient care. Improving surgical team wellbeing has been a major focus for the College over the last year. The College Trainees Committee has taken the lead in this, and the Patient Safety Group have been proud to support them in this endeavour. The committee ran a very successful wellbeing week in March this year. This week raised awareness of the importance of wellbeing amongst all members of the surgical team, and was packed full of various activities including daily webinars, virtual workshops on peer coaching, writing for wellbeing and Instagram resources on cooking, mindfulness, yoga, art and how to make work fun.

Building Healthier Surgical Teams: The Patient Safety Group have also been working hard over the last year to develop resources to allow us all to build healthier surgical teams, so important for safe surgical practice.

Recommendations to Government: These have included the important paper on Improving the Working Environment for Safe Surgical Care.

MSc in Patient Safety and Clinical Human Factors: We have also worked with the University of Edinburgh as part of the Edinburgh Surgery Online Series to develop an MSc in Patient Safety and Clinical Human Factors. This 3-year, part-time programme supports any graduate healthcare professional in using evidence-based tools to improve the safety of everyday healthcare systems.

The theme set by the WHO for this year’s World Patient Safety Day is Safe Childbirth. Over the week we have been releasing a series of blogs on key surgical and dental topics in this area, including management of post-partum fistulae, in-utero diagnosis and treatment, safe maternal and newborn oral health and finally why women die in childbirth, both in the UK and globally, and what can be done about it. I hope that you found these interesting.

Please visit the College’s website and social media channels for more information on all these resources, as well as details of all the other College patient safety initiatives. It is great to be able to share these with you and to help raise awareness of the importance of patient safety in our everyday surgical and dental practice.


Written by Anna Paisley, Consultant General and Upper GI Surgeon at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, RCSEd Council Member and chair of the RCSEd Patient Safety Group.

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