Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust

Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust embraces flexibility of Datix

Lancashire 1
Lancashire 1

Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust provides health and wellbeing services for a population of around 1.4 million people.

It offers a broad range of services from health visiting, podiatry, sexual health and dentistry as well as inpatient and community mental health services. The Trust covers the whole of the county and employs approximately 7,000 members of staff across more than 400 sites. 

Quality for all to see

Like most healthcare organisations, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust (LCFT) is regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and is required to meet strict standards in patient safety and care.

Matthew Joyes, Associate Director of Safety and Quality Governance at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust explains, “Thanks to real-time data held in the Datix system, we can supply live intelligence reports to healthcare commissioners. At our recent CQC inspection, we were able to use Datix to quickly and effectively provide information requested by the regulator.”

Most recently, healthcare commissioners commended LCFTs management of serious incidents, a milestone supported by the effective us of the Datix solution. The Trust has set criteria against each incident, for example, severity 1, 2 or 3 require local investigation, whilst those with severity 4 or 5 require a 3-day review and are raised at a weekly meeting. 

“This transparent and robust process gives Clinical Commissioning Groups the assurance they need that we are in control of our incident reporting,” Matthew Joyes emphasised.

Introducing a flexible, highly versatile approach to patient safety

Since first deploying Datix in 2011, when the Trust took on additional community services from neighbouring health trusts, Lancashire Care has successfully expanded the original system to encompass Incidents, Claims, Risk Register, Customer Care, Safety Alerts as well as Dashboards and Hotspots modules.

Typically, LCFT reports around 25,000 incidents every year. The data is then analysed to flag up potential problems areas and highlight any service improvements that have been made as a result of specific incidents. Incidents are also used as a source of information when identifying risks across the organisation and feed into the Datix Risk Register.

The trust relies on Datix Safety Alerts to help disseminate communication and guidelines from organisations such as the National Institute for Health & Care Excellence and the National Reporting and Learning System, as well as LCFTs own shared learning. For example, LCFT is currently developing an equipment database that will integrate with Datix Safety Alerts. If advised of faulty medical equipment, staff will know instantly and check LCFT’s own inventory against official notifications, thereby saving time and proactively protecting patients.

Eileen Stokes, Risk Manager at LCFT said, “For me, the biggest benefit of using Datix is its flexibility. The system is highly flexible, which means we have adapted the technology to our needs and made it our own. Staff love its intuitiveness often comparing it to being as easy and fast to use as online banking or booking a holiday!”

Hotspots and Dashboards make a difference

LCFT uses the Datix Hotspots module and has the ability to highlight potential problem areas, such as self-harming, and set a ‘hotspot’ limit so that the issue is escalated to management should a certain number of self-harming incidents occur. This provides the evidence necessary to make meaningful changes.

"Staff have embraced the Datix Dashboards module for its easy-to-use functionality, versatility and graphical displays. It has helped to transform our approach to incident management and fostered an environment of greater collaboration, a win-win situation all round.”  Eileen Stokes, Risk Manager at LCFT

“At a glance, staff can search for incidents within a certain timeframe. The system automatically regenerates itself to show this week’s or this month’s information to keep managers one step ahead. This is perfect for meetings, where clinical leads can present the latest data on a screen and talk through variations. If someone queries something, the clinical lead can simply drill down further to discover the cause of the incident so it can be discussed as a team.”

Managing risk across the trust’s four clinical networks

LCFT comprises four clinical networks – adult mental health, children & families, adult community and specialist services (i.e. prisons and other secure units). Three former healthcare organisations merged with Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust when the new organisation was established in 2011.

At the time LCFT set up the Quality SEEL (Safety, Effectiveness, Experience & Leadership), a quality improvement framework designed to track the performance of the four clinical networks against CQC standards and trained staff to ensure any gaps were recorded on the Datix Risk Register. The new programme and associated training have been so successful that the number of risks reported has risen dramatically from 685 in 2012 to 1,699 to date in 2015, nearly a three-fold increase in as many years.

The increase is also a result of linking incidents to risks within the Datix system. If specific incidents occur frequently or a gap is identified during an audit, they become risks that can be brought to the attention of management and even be discussed in real time at meetings by projecting the Datix Risk Register or Dashboard module onto a screen. Managers are then able to find the root cause of the problem, such as staff shortages, address it and so minimise risk in the future.

So much more than reporting

Over time, the Datix solution has become an intrinsic part of running LCFT with 70% of the data transmitted to the Trust’s electronic team information boards coming from Datix. This information is also used to meet its monthly targets from the Commissioning for Quality and Innovation (CQUIN) payment framework. CQUIN enables healthcare commissioners to reward excellence, by linking a proportion of English healthcare providers’ income to the achievement of local quality improvement goals.

Most recently, when LCFT opened up a new 126-bed hospital in Blackpool, Datix was the only system that could be implemented quickly enough to ensure the new facility was up and running with the right processes from the start.

Planning a busy future

The Datix system has achieved widespread adoption across the trust and staff can see for themselves the benefits of using it. To help with increased use and special request changes to the system, LCFT has introduced the “Datix Huddle”, a team of Datix specialists who, on a weekly basis, assign actions and track requests for modifications that cannot be fixed immediately or within one hour by the Trust’s dedicated Datix Helpdesk. For example, the huddle will discuss items such as requests for additional categories or changes to Datix relating to procedures such as the use of patient restraints.

Matthew Joyes concluded, “Datix is a key safety and quality solution that is highly versatile, allowing us to use it for much more than reporting. It has become a highly valuable, strategic tool that enables us to ensure our entire healthcare environment is run efficiently and in a very visible way, essential in today’s demanding regulatory and ever-changing NHS landscape.”

About Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust

Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust provides health and wellbeing services for a population of around 1.4million people. The trust offers a broad range of services from health visiting, podiatry, sexual health and dentistry as well as inpatient and community mental health services. The trust covers the whole of the county and employs around 7,000 members of staff across more than 400 sites.

LCFT services are within easy reach of the Lake District, Forest of Bowland, Blackpool, Southport and the Yorkshire Moors, as well as the historic cities of Lancaster, Manchester, Preston, Liverpool and the market towns of Garstang, Chorley and Bury.

For more information, please visit

Lancashire Care

Fast facts