Safety culture

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

Indicator

Last updated: 29/01/2020

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

Background

The NHS Patient Safety Strategy includes objectives to monitor and support the development of a safety culture in the NHS to continuously improve the safety of care. A good safety culture in healthcare is one with 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) (NHS Improvement, 2019).

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? 29/01/2020

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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 2015 and 2018, the proportion of NHS Staff Survey respondents who agreed or strongly agreed that their organisation takes action increased slightly from 67% to 70% (data not shown).

This indicator shows that NHS staff working in acute specialist trusts most often reported that their organisation takes action to ensure that errors, near misses or incidents do not happen again; in 2018, 76% of respondents from acute specialist trusts said that their organisation takes action. In contrast, ambulance trust staff least often reported that their organisation takes action; in 2018, only 57% of respondents said that their organisation takes action and 13% reported that they do not take action. The proportion of staff who reported that their organisation takes action improved across all trust types between 2016 and 2018.


What proportion of staff would feel secure raising concerns about unsafe clinical practice? 29/01/2020

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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 agreeing or strongly agreeing that they would feel secure raising concerns increased from 68% in 2014 to 71% in 2018.

Results from the most recent survey showed that staff in community trusts felt the most secure raising concerns, with 76% saying they would feel secure. This compares to 65% of ambulance trust staff (data not shown).


How does feeling secure raising concerns about unsafe practice compare across different staff groups? 29/01/2020

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According to the 2018 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 73% of allied health professionals, 66% of medical/dental trainees and only 65% of ambulance staff.

Between 2014 and 2018 the percentage of respondents who said that they felt secure raising concerns increased for all staff groups, except for general managers (decreasing from 77% to 75%) and medical/dental trainees (decreasing from 71% to 66%).


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, individuals’ 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 were re-weighted according to the 2018 weights.

For more information, please see the NHS Staff Survey – Basic guide for 2018 results and the Technical Guide to the 2018 Staff Survey Data.

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