NHS Grampian

NHS Grampian creates innovative patient safety framework using Datix

Grampian Nhs Aberdeen
Grampian Nhs Aberdeen

NHS Grampian provides healthcare services to the North-East of Scotland. 

As one of the 10 principal Health Boards in the country, NHS Grampian operates 18 community hospitals, a further 6 hospitals offering highly specialised care and 84 GP practices.  The organisation’s 17,000 staff provide NHS services for over half a million people who live in Grampian.

NHS Grampian has close links to the University of Aberdeen (with its internationally renowned Medical School and new Dental School) and Robert Gordon University. These close links have made the Health Board a centre of pioneering medical research in a number of fields.

Patient safety lies at the centre of operation

NHS Grampian’s reputation for innovation and excellence is underlined by a long-term initiative (Healthfit) dedicated to delivering improved health and health services across the community.

In fact, the need to establish an effective framework for improving patient safety began in April 2005 when NHS Grampian purchased Datix web-based software to manage incidents. Following a robust review of the marketplace, Datix was chosen as the most complete patient safetysoftware that matched the immediate requirements and in addition the system could be customised to meet the changing needs of a large and complex organisation. 

Over the years, NHS Grampian has worked closely with Datix to expand the use of the original system, building in new functionality along the way. The Health Board now has a rigorous but flexible way of managing incidents, complaints, claims, requests for information (ROI), safety alerts and risks.

According to Janet Seaton, Quality Informatics Manager at NHS Grampian, “Our aim is to provide high quality patient experiences and a good place for our healthcare professionals to work.  Extensive use of the Datix system has helped to achieve both at the same time. Successful and widespread adoption of the technology has been crucial to driving efficiencies across our organisation which are in turn critical to improving services to our patients.”

Janet believes the new Datix Dashboard module has been instrumental in encouraging widespread acceptance of the system.  Dashboard displays make data easier to interpret which has led to an increase in the number of incidents recorded simply because reporting is more readily accepted among nursing and medical staff.  In addition, the dynamic environment of Datix where multiple dashboards and personalised reports can be created has been a real bonus with evidence that staff are using Datix as an additional communication tool.  Areas of concern such as non-conformance by a department or sector and real-life case studies can be shared by downloading information directly from the Datix system.  There are even monthly user groups arranged by Janet’s team where staff can present ideas and generally maximise the use of the Datix system.

Severe incidents get the priority they deserve

An innovative new method of reporting severe incidents has recently been introduced to NHS Grampian.  Previously monthly extracts were taken from Datix of severe incidents for example where the outcome was death, and sent to selected senior management.  The new system automatically emails severe incidents to a group of up to 30 senior managers including the Chief Operating Officer (COO), Director of Nursing and Quality (DNQ) and the Head of Clinical Governance and Risk Management Unit.  Other people receiving the emails are the General Managers for the six sectors and members of their senior team for example lead nurse, lead clinicians etc.

The primary aims of the new severe incidents reporting process were to:

  • Provide senior managers with a picture of what was being reported in their area
  • Raise awareness of the Significant incidents being reported
  • Assist in identification of themes and trends

The secondary aims were to:

  • Improve the recording of management of Significant incidents
  • Raise awareness of system use

Janet Seaton commented, “A recent evaluation has shown that both the primary and secondary aims of this new reporting process have been achieved.  Immediately sending emails to senior managers within each Sector and also to Directors has increased awareness and management of significant incidents.   The information now goes immediately to those who have the authority to provide support to incident managers and to allocate resources to time-critical situations.”

Making patient safety an integral part of the strategic risk register

NHS Grampian has recently introduced the DatixWeb Risks module to encourage greater reporting of risks across the organisation’s six sectors: Acute, Aberdeenshire, Moray, Aberdeen City, Mental Health and Facilities. The new module enables managers to have a single view of risks across all six sectors and link them to the Board’s strategic risk register.  The potential benefits of improved visibility and a standardised approach to risk are significant. Managers share information and handle risks more effectively.  By identifying trends and spotting where similar risks occur in different sectors, they can also save money when it comes to contingency planning and mitigation costs. Prior to Datix, different systems gave a disconnected view of risk potentially exposing the organisation to greater operational and strategic risks. The implementation of Web Risks has been so successful at sector level that NHS Grampian is planning to introduce it at department level to ascertain service level patient risk.

Sharing learning improves healthcare safety with Datix Safety Alerts

The Health Board has taken an innovative approach to using Datix that highlights the flexibility of the solution.  Originally designed to help healthcare organisations comply with the stringent requirements of bodies such as the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and NHSLA, Datix Safety Alerts, for example, was initially introduced into NHS Grampian as a means to replace the manual process of issuing risk control notices to 1,500 staff.

"Our aim is to provide high quality patient experiences and a good place for our healthcare professionals to work. Extensive use of the Datix system has helped to achieve both at the same time." Janet Seaton, Quality Informatics Manager NHS Grampian

The technology is now also used to share learning.  Janet Seaton concluded, “We are deploying a totally new sharing learning programme that just would not have been possible without Datix.  Better reporting has created a library of valuable information that can be consolidated into knowledge reports and pushed out to the entire organisation.  We have the perfect opportunity to save time and resource by sharing our experiences and building on knowledge that ultimately improves standards, supports the overall health plan and delivers excellent patient care.”

Public notice boards demonstrate commitment to deliver on promises

NHS Grampian pays more than lip service to improving patient safety. In addition to introducing consistent and effective ways of working, the organisation proactively monitors and tracks its progress against objectives. Local Managers can access and print off information for display on ward notice boards that show patients and their visitors the work that is being done to improve safety and quality of care.

About NHS Grampian

NHS Grampian, which is one of the 10 principal Health Boards in Scotland, provides healthcare services to the North-East of the country, covering the local government areas administered by Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Morayshire Councils.

The organisation employs around 17,000 staff who deliver a wide range of healthcare services to half a million people spread across 3,000 square miles of city, town, village and rural communities.  Aberdeen, as a major Scottish city, is where most of the hospitals are located. Elgin in Moray, is the site of Dr Gray’s and the principal general hospital is in the west of Grampian. In addition, there are a further 14 community hospitals, situated in each of the main towns.

NHS Grampian has close links to the University of Aberdeen (with its internationally renowned Medical School and new Dental School) and Robert Gordon University. These close links have made the Health Board a centre of pioneering medical research in a number of fields.

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