• Posted

Today (17 September 2020) is World Patient Safety Day, organised by the World Health Organization (WHO) its international partners, and countries around the globe.

The theme for this year is health worker safety with the focus on the need for a safe working environment as a prerequisite for patient safety. The essential watchwords are ‘safe health workers: safe patients’.

COVID-19 has presented significant and unprecedented challenges and risks for health workers throughout the world. It has also emphasised the vital role they play in providing direct patient care, alleviating suffering and saving lives.

As the pandemic’s grip continues, there has never been a more important time to protect and support vital frontline healthcare professionals and help save patients’ lives.

The WHO Charter for World Patient Safety Day calls on governments and those running health services at local levels to take five actions to better protect health workers. These include steps to:

  • Protect health workers from violence
  • Improve their mental health
  • Protect them from physical and biological hazards
  • Advance national programmes for health worker safety
  • Connect health worker safety policies to existing patient safety policies

The renewed focus on the health and mental well-being of health workers is a welcome development. To ensure the overall safety of health workers and improve patient safety, there needs to be ready access to mental well-being and social support services for health workers, including advice on work-life balance and support to best achieve this.

Of course, ensuring appropriate and fair working hours while making sure there are safe staffing levels has always been a challenging issue – even before the pandemic. However, well-grounded and realistic policies are vital if frontline health workers are to achieve an effective work-life balance.

Empowering health workers to speak up if things go wrong is another crucial step in improving patient safety.

Hannah Carr, a senior solicitor from our Salisbury office and an expert in medical negligence claims, says:

“A culture that values patient safety is one where health workers are empowered to report mistakes and where complaints and feedback are viewed as an opportunity to learn, reduce risks and improve safety levels.

“NHS staff must be fully supported throughout any complaints process in an open, transparent and safe environment that promotes constructive feedback and supports staff and patients to speak up to ensure lessons are learned and the same mistakes do not happen again.”

To find out more about World Patient Safety Day click here.

If you or a family member has been harmed due to medical negligence, you can call our expert solicitors for advice on 0800 884 0777 or email info@novumlaw.com.