Caring to put safety first

To put safety first we also need to put our staff first. 

Part of the recipe for success in patient safety is to care for those that care. 

I always remember feeling so bad when a patient would ask me for something and a few hours later remind me of the thing they asked for.  I was too busy to remember their individual need. That’s not good care and not safe if the thing they asked for was medication or vital information or telling me about a symptom that should have warned me that they were deteriorating but I simply didn’t recognise it because I got too busy. 

Care workers who look after people in their homes deserve to be cared for, loved for what they do. How can a healthcare worker provide safe and effective care when rushing from one patient to the next, struggling to find time to pee or eat. How do they do that safely when simply whizzing through their patients needs because they are late for the next appointment. 

GPs need to be cared for, loved for what they do. They patiently sit and listen to our concerns while thinking about the previous patients concerns and how they are going to help us to to the point so they can diagnose or assure – are they listening or simply too stressed to hear. How do they do that safely when by the end of the clinic they are so exhausted – yet still know that the next patient could be the potential person with the signs of cancer they might miss. 

Junior doctors need to be cared for, loved for what they do. The nomads of the NHS. How do they do it, go from one place to the next and need to adapt in minutes, know exactly where everything is, know exactly how it all works and when they have it sussed they have to move on. All the while studying, growing in knowledge till they are fit to burst. How do they do that safely when everywhere they go is so different. 

Instilling joy and pride in the NHS is a mantra of Don Berwick. Instilling respect, value and kindness need to be added to these so that we care for each other and help each other get through the day and above all be safe.