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Huddle Up for Safer Healthcare: Scaling up safety huddles across 5 Yorkshire hospital sites


In the UK over the past decade a range of local, national and international patient safety initiatives designed to improve patient safety, with a few notable exceptions, have failed to demonstrate a convincing impact on patient harm. We believe that this is in part because high profile initiatives have taken a top down approach to implementation.

The cornerstone of this project was to embrace a bottom up and collaborative approach to the introduction of Yorkshire safety huddles.

The work started in late 2013 on 4 wards in Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust where the Improvement Academy worked with those teams to develop and test ‘patient safety huddles’ and measure their impact on patient harm.

The Improvement Academy successfully obtained a £500k grant from The Health Foundation to scale up Yorkshire safety huddles across 3 acute trusts.

The Aims of our project:

  • Implementation of Patient Safety Huddles in all teams across five acute hospitals in the three partner NHS Trusts:
    • Leeds General Infirmary, St James’ Hospital & Chapel Allerton Hospital (96 in-patient wards) – Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
    • Barnsley General Hospital (27 in-patient wards) – Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
    • Scarborough Hospital (13 in-patient wards) – York Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • To deliver demonstrable improvements in ward-level patient safety culture
  • To deliver a significant reduction in patient harm
  • To determine the whole-system benefits and challenges of implementing patient safety huddles at scale, in hospitals of different sizes and contexts, and draw out the implications of this for healthcare providers striving to be high-reliability organisations
  • To disseminate learning regionally across the AHSN geography in Yorkshire and Humber, nationally across the NHS, and internationally

The University of Bradford evaluated the project using the results of the Teamwork and Safety Climate surveys, observations of huddles, interviews with staff involved in huddles and SPC charts. The evaluation has shown that huddles have a positive impact in staff morale and improved team working. To see some of our happy teams huddling see our Twitter feed here.

On completion of the project, 83% of wards in the project had embedded Yorkshire safety huddles into their daily routine, with 41% of those wards having a significant reduction in harm.

Huddle Up for Safer Healthcare: Scaling up safety huddles across 5 Yorkshire hospital sites

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