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Compassion and connecting.

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There is a lot of talk about compassionate leadership. What does it actually mean? Start with listening. Be empathetic, kind, humble and human. Ask people what they need. Be curious and don’t assume you need to have all the answers. Seek diversity of people and opinions to help find the solutions. Help people be the best they can be. Understand what is important. Mostly it’s about being part of a team connecting, contributing and collaborating […]

Understanding the middle

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Imagine a range which has at one end the status quo i.e. the way in which we continue to do the same thing time and time and time again (I’m talking safety wise, incident reporting, incident investigations, focus on error, harm and failure etc) and at the other end is ‘change’ or ‘innovation’ or ‘improvement’ whatever you want to call it (I’m talking QI project, doing change projects etc).  Now I am not for one […]

New ways for new times

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The tools and methods for safety I seem clumsy and out of sync with the world we find ourselves in. Incident reporting and root cause analysis have long been both the methods of choice and the wrong way to learn. Over the next few months let’s explore better methods for learning. Let’s use this time to design a much better way to help people work safely that is based on safety II principles. 1. Learning […]

Safety II and Covid-19


Julia Unwin says the time is for us to notice what is happening now in order to learn from it for the future. The study of how people and systems are able to succeed within complex adaptive systems and constant changing dynamics is really important right now.  Complexity forces us to consider the dynamic properties of healthcare and the way in which it is constantly changing and its unpredictability. In order to make sense of […]

You are doing something very special


For those of you who think you are doing nothing by staying at home. By doing so you are supporting everyone else, you are not putting yourself and others at unnecessary risk.  You are doing something very special. For those of you who are working from home for all sorts of reasons.  You are doing something very special.  For those of you who are hearing stories from your friends and colleagues about what it is […]

New beginnings and collaborations


When I started out in the NHS I could never have imagined where my career would take me.  Over 40 years later I have had the most wonderful career both as a clinician and as a patient safety specialist which has taken me all over the world and to meet the most fantastic people along the way. I decided last year that in 2020 I would go freelance.  As someone who has always been ‘an […]



My mum and I spent a small fortune one year in buying online what we considered were the most beautiful plants for her garden.  They arrived tiny and frail but full of promise, we had even proudly drawn up a garden design for where they would go in the particular border we wanted to improve. We dug and fertilised the ground they were going to be planted in and went for it.  The result was […]

Safety myths


The Implementing Patient Safety blog series Part one describes the growing sense of unease about the way we do safety in healthcare and how we can do it differently. It describes the dominant approach to patient safety in healthcare we use today – which has been coined by some as Safety I. Patient safety is stuck in a world of bureaucracy, negativity and blame. The tone and language of patient safety have led to disengagement […]

Implementing Patient Safety


My second book came out on 10 October 2019, I cannot believe where the time has gone.  I wrote my first book Rethinking Patient Safety but still had so much more to say and wanted to share the learning from the last five years working on the Sign up to Safety campaign. So during our last two years of the campaign I set about writing my second book.  I love writing and I find the […]



I am delighted to share the following guest blog by the lovely Amy Overend. Kindness, it seems like a simple notion doesn’t it?  A simple way of telling another struggling soul that there is love, hope and happiness to be found in the world. More often than not nowadays kindness seems to be in short supply.  The world seems harsh and hard and often it feels like that feeling of joy is missing.  I can truly understand […]