A few years ago, I was part of a group that was being interviewed by Chris Laidlaw for a piece about patient safety on National Radio’s Sunday morning programme. Part-way through the interview, Chris turned to me and asked “Why is patient safety new? Haven’t district health boards been addressing this for years?”. I have to be honest – his question was unexpected and I was a bit stuck for an answer. I waffled my way through responding but the query really stuck in my mind. I want to revisit it today as I’m joined by Jonathon Gray to talk about patient safety, quality improvement and the approaching APAC Forum.
Why do we ‘do’ quality improvement? As Chris hinted at, hasn’t patient safety been the domain of doctors throughout the history of the profession? Indeed, until recently, patient safety was the province of the individual clinician. He/she determined the quality of care a patient received, with a clinical audit to improve care at the individual level.
More recently, however, the breadth of knowledge required, the services offered and the treatments available has burgeoned. Healthcare has moved to an era of multidisciplinary teams operating in different departments, introducing complexity that extends beyond the scope of any individual clinician. The emphasis on quality improvement reflects this increasing complexity and the need to upsize the clinical audit to an organisation-wide practise. Now more than ever, it’s important that we unravel this complexity and learn how to improve the quality of the services we offer.
This sentiment is echoed worldwide, particularly in the wake of Don Berwick’s report which was published after the Mid Staffs tragedy . In it, he explains that “the most important single change in the system in response to the tragedies in Mid Staffs is that the system must become, more than ever before, a system devoted to continual learning and improvement in patient care, top to bottom and end to end.” Undoubtedly, there is an international awareness of the need to commit to continual learning and improvement in order to learn from, and avoid repeating, the errors and mistakes of the past.
With that awareness and urgency in mind, the time is right to bring delegates from across the world together in Auckland for the APAC Forum on quality improvement in healthcare. This forum, which we are again co-hosting with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and Ko Awatea, will take place at SkyCity on September 25 – 27. It will be the biggest meeting of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, with already over 12 countries sending delegates and registrations growing by the day.
Everyday, each of us needs to do two things: perform our job and think about how to improve our job. Learning about quality improvement is our collective responsibility. We also all have ideas to offer and there is no better opportunity to share them than at APAC. This forum will give delegates the chance to learn new skills, build leadership, showcase local strengths and learn from others internationally.
This is important because we need to move from a place where we have challenges in common to one where we share solutions. We could just hunker down locally and do our little bit of the jigsaw as best we can but that won’t create all the solutions we need for the challenges we face. We have to look outwards at the bigger picture and connect with the best brains in the world to solve the challenges we collectively face. We hope you’ll be part of this exciting effort to unravel the complexity that is happening around us and improve patient care.
Geraint and Jonathan