Safety culture

This indicator uses data from the NHS Staff Survey to look at safety culture in the NHS.

Indicator

Last updated: 17/09/2020

Safety
Hospital care Emergency care Mental health Learning disability Public health Social care

Background

A good safety culture in healthcare is one that includes value and respect for diversity, strong leadership and teamwork, openness to learning, and staff who feel psychologically safe (an environment where each individual feels they will be treated fairly and compassionately if they speak up). The NHS Patient Safety Strategy outlines aims to monitor and support the development of a strong patient safety culture in the NHS to continuously improve the safety of care.

Caregivers are accountable for being capable, conscientious and not engaging in unsafe behaviour, but should not be held accountable for system failures. Leaders should hear patients’ and caregivers’ concerns regarding defects which interfere with the delivery of safe care, and promote improvements in safety.


What proportion of staff report that their organisation takes action to ensure that errors, near misses or incidents do not happen again? 17/09/2020

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When errors, near misses or incidents are reported, it is the responsibility of the organisation to take action to ensure that they do not happen again. Between 2016 and 2019, the proportion of NHS Staff Survey respondents who agreed or strongly agreed that their organisation takes action increased slightly from 69% to 71% (data not shown).

NHS staff working in acute specialist trusts most often report that their organisation takes action to ensure that errors, near misses or incidents do not happen again; in 2019, 78% of these respondents said their organisation took action. Ambulance trust staff least often report that their organisation takes action; in 2019, 58% of these respondents said that their organisation took action and 13% reported that they did not take action.

Between 2016 and 2019, the proportion of staff who reported that their organisation took action remained roughly constant for mental health and learning disability trusts, but increased for all other trust types.


What proportion of staff would feel secure raising concerns about unsafe clinical practice? 17/09/2020

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NHS Staff Survey respondents are asked if they would feel secure raising concerns about unsafe clinical practice. Overall, the proportion of staff who agreed or strongly agreed that they would feel secure raising concerns increased from 68% in 2015 to 72% in 2019.

Results from the most recent survey showed that staff in community trusts felt the most secure raising concerns, with 77% saying they would feel secure. This compares to 66% of ambulance trust staff (data not shown).


How does feeling secure raising concerns about unsafe practice compare across different staff groups? 17/09/2020

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In the 2019 NHS Staff Survey, nurses and midwives felt the most secure raising concerns about unsafe clinical practice, with 79% saying they agreed or strongly agreed that they would feel secure. This compares to 74% of allied health professionals, 68% of medical/dental trainees and 67% of ambulance staff.

Between 2015 and 2019, the percentage of respondents who said that they felt secure raising concerns increased for all staff groups, except for medical/dental trainees (among whom it decreased from 73% to 68%).


About this data

This indicator uses data from the NHS Staff Survey. The scores are calculated as the percentage of respondents who gave a specific answer to a question, or a defined set of responses to a series of questions. The responses for each respondent have been summarised for each organisation using a weighting procedure. In order to make NHS organisations’ scores comparable, individual’s scores are weighted so that the occupational group profile of the organisation reflects that of a typical organisation of its type. For comparisons between scores over time, the data from previous years are re-weighted according to the 2019 weights.

For more information, please see the NHS Staff Survey – Basic guide for 2019 results and the Technical Guide to the 2019 Staff Survey Data.

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