UKFPO Bulletin

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Stress awareness month 

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Welcome to the April bulletin. 

I went to a network meeting last week which largely centred on patient safety.  Some of the time was spent reviewing the new NHS patient safety processes (PSIRF) which I have little doubt some of you will be aware of already. There was also reference to a number of reports where failure to respond to safety concerns or even denial that they existed lead to ongoing morbidity and mortality, sometimes on a large scale. 

My first real involvement with this was the Mid Staffs enquiry (Francis) but there have been others including (Kirkup), Shrewsbury and Telford, Countess of Chester etc. Lessons are being offered but sometimes they seem to be forgotten or are not shared. 

Although we talk a lot about patient safety, sometimes our actions don’t deliver and sometimes this may be related to our approach to the risks inherent in any healthcare situation. The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges have been involved in developing a patient safety syllabus and, for those who have not yet been mandated to do it, it is well worth looking at the initial two modules on eLfH. The course is called ‘Patient Safety Syllabus Training’ and explains clearly about the ‘systems’ approach to patient safety. 

As well as the systems approach there are the ‘human factors’. One of the key things I got from the meeting was about how our behaviour and that of others can impinge on patient safety. When we are stressed by the actions of another, we lose some or even all of our ability for concentrate on other tasks (as one speaker said, ‘it takes up all our bandwidth’). Some statistics about this are eloquently given on the Home | Civility Saves Lives website. There is evidence that not only is this a problem when we are the recipients of negative behaviour but when we witness it too.  

Furthermore, our ability to deal with situations of conflict is directly related to our personal wellbeing and we all know that we all have bad days when we are less able to cope. One of the key messages I took away was thus, then we witness incivility – be it rudeness, bullying, thoughtlessness, or even downright prejudice, we should intervene and break the cycle. The other key message was that we really need to look after ourselves to ensure that we are resilient so that we can withstand the incivility of others and offer empathy to those who experience it. 

As always, I can relate this to the curriculum: FPC7 – Fitness to practice. 

Finally, as I’m talking about patient safety, I must remind everyone of their duty to ‘speak up’. This might be via a JDF, speaking to a senior colleague or by completing an ‘incident form’ – something every doctor should do at least once per year.   Occasionally this might be by following the whistleblowing policy.   

When we see potential risks on the healthcare settings in which we work we should act. 

As always, there is more information on all this on the UKFPO website.  

Best wishes 
Tony Choules, Operational Advisor to the UKFPO 

Foundation doctors and leadership webinar

Date: Tuesday 30 April 2024

Time: 14:00-15:00

Target audience: Foundation doctors

Check the link to view the April eLfh update