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Babylonian patient safety

11 Oct

by Stephen Campbell, Director of the NIHR Greater Manchester PSTRC

800px-Code_of_Hammurabi_75_cropped

One of the twelve stone displaying the Code of Hammurabi

Every patient, every person, deserves safe quality care. The quality and safety of care varies between countries and within countries; even within hospitals or general practices, dental practices or pharmacies. Some people will benefit from exemplary care (both clinical and inter-personal) whereas most will experience safe quality care. However, the reality is that some people / patients will receive poorer care and, in a minority of cases, unsafe, or unacceptable quality of, care.

How should this be addressed? Quality and safety improvement literature refer to various forms of incentives and rewards or penalties to reflect the safety and quality of care delivered. These can relate to financial, professional, regulatory and reputational standards and reflection of performance. It’s important to emphasise that care is provided within organisations within systems and usually as part of a team. Most unsafe and poor care is often the result of systems errors.

The idea that there will be incentives or consequences for the safety and quality of care delivered is new…is wrong. There have been some interesting approaches over the centuries. Do they have anything in common with health and social care today? Yes – they reflect the fact that it’s been recognised that care varies and patient outcomes vary and that there is an arbiter (a regulatory body or an individual) of safety and quality who will decide on the consequences for patient outcomes. Leaving aside issues of ethics, morals and legality…not to mention fairness…

Between the fifth and third centuries BC, the Hippocratic Oath required a new physician to swear, by a number of healing Gods, to uphold specific ethical standards. In essence, “First do no harm” (Latin: Primum non nocere). The “do no harm” was not new. King Hammurabi (B.C.1795-1750) was king of Babylonia who is credited with the legal Code of Hammurabi (a set of 282 laws written on twelve stones and displayed publicly for all to see). These were designed to regulate Mesopotamian society. Perhaps the most well-known is: “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.” Delve deeper and one law stipulates that “If a doctor has opened an abscess of the eye and has cured the eye, he shall take ten shekels of silver”… however…“If a doctor has opened an abscess of the eye and has caused the loss of the eye, the doctor’s fingers shall be cut off”.

The focus on quality and safety of healthcare is mostly a post-war agenda. While it would not be appropriate to compare any existing health and social care regulatory body such as the Care Quality Commission to Mesopotamian society, it’s interesting to reflect on the fact that “regulation” of healthcare and patient outcomes is certainly not new. Thankfully, however, the current focus on “each person receives appropriate person-centred care and treatment” does not require anyone to have their fingers chopped off.

Using Artificial Intelligence to help primary care triage

5 Oct

by Ben Brown, GP and Researcher in the NIHR Greater Manchester PSTRC’s Safety Informatics theme

Working on laptop, close up of business man

Researchers at The University of Manchester and Spectra Analytics are developing an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system to help support GP practices triage requests for appointments – the Patient Automated Triage and Clinical Hub Scheduling (PATCHS) system.

It’s often difficult to get an appointment with a GP, and it’s estimated that over a quarter of GP appointments could have been dealt with in an alternative way, for example by another clinician (such as a nurse) or through patient self-care. One solution may therefore be to allocate GP appointments to patients that really need them. 

While receptionists at GP practices can direct patients to the most appropriate care provider, not all practices do this, and often patients are unwilling to disclose their problems to them. PATCHS plans to tackle this by providing an online tool that will efficiently direct patients to the right place, 24 hours a day. Patients will input their reasons for requesting a GP appointment, and PATCHS will analyse this request, taking into account the patient’s medical history, in addition to other factors such as the weather, to come to a triage decision. It is hoped the system could ultimately be integrated into practice websites and medical records, ensuring effective triage at the beginning of a patient’s care pathway.

The project is funded by Innovate UK and is currently in the development stage: PATCHS is currently learning from existing data about how patients are triaged when booking a GP appointment. However, the team are looking for volunteers – both patients and doctors – to participate in the project. If you’d like to know more please contact Dr Ben Brown on benjamin.brown@manchester.ac.uk.

How was it for you? Reflections on involvement

2 Aug

This edition’s reflection comes from Kay Gallacher, a member of the public who is involved in the NIHR Greater Manchester PSTRC Patient Safety Guide.

Kay Gallacher PSG_lightened_cropped

Why did you become involved in the Patient Safety Guide project?

I have long been aware of the issues that elderly family and neighbours, in particular have experienced trying to manage contact with their GPs and pharmacies.  The brilliant, simple idea behind this Patient Safety Guide seems to address many of the concerns in a practical and tangible way.  I was also attracted by the fact that this was a collaborative project where patients, carers and medical professionals all have an equally important input into the design and delivery of both the paper- based Guide and the mobile app, hopefully making it a 360 degrees (all round) useful tool.

How do you think the Greater Manchester PSTRC benefitted from your involvement – what difference do you feel that you made?

I guess it’s for others to judge what impact, if any, I’ve had on the project.  However, I’ve brought a genuine understanding of the problems patients face when coming into contact with primary care and producing leaflets and guides was bread and butter for me in my marketing career.  So, I hope I’ve been helpful in producing and delivering an effective product.

How do you feel that you benefitted from your involvement?

I am involved with several projects, but this one in particular has sharpened my understanding of how the GP/ patient dynamic operates.  I came to this project with a patient’s viewpoint but I now have a better insight into the challenges GPs face in establishing and maintaining effective communication with patients.  Also, the deep personal satisfaction of feeling that I’ve made a positive contribution.  Importantly, I can’t overstate the pleasure I’ve derived from being part of a cohesive, effective and well-led team composed of great people from a wide range of backgrounds.

Would you recommend becoming involved in research to other patients and carers? If so, why?

Definitely!!  What you get from being involved largely depends on what you put into it but I can absolutely guarantee that, regardless of your starting point, you will have a better understanding of the workings of medical research and the wider world of medicine in general.

Exploring self-management and culturally appropriate patient feedback among British Bangladeshis in Manchester

2 Aug
British Bangladeshis article_visual minutes

Visual minutes from the workshop capture the main discussion points

by Papreen Nahar and Caroline Sanders

Previous Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) workshops within the DEPEND project have indicated a need to consider Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups. On September 21st, 2017,  two public engagement workshops were conducted in Manchester with a BME population – namely British Bangladeshis – to discuss their views and experiences of ‘self-management’ for long-term conditions, as well as the capturing and use of patient feedback and the potential of digital interventions. British Bangladeshis are a significant immigrant population, comprising 13% of foreign-born residents in England. In Manchester, Bangladeshis ranked second among South Asians for persistent inequalities reported, particularly Bangladeshi women. To maintain culturally appropriate language and gender segregation, the workshops were conducted in Bengali, and separately with men and women. Two professional artists were invited to prepare visual reports on the sessions. 

The Bangladesh High Commission, Greater Manchester Bangladeshi Association (GMBA), and Krishnochura (a British Bangladeshi cultural group) were the partners for these workshops. UK-based Bengali TV channels also highlighted the workshops, as these events were the first of their kind.

Following are the highlights from the workshops:

On Self-Management

  • Neither men nor women were generally aware of the concept of ‘self-management’, and they did not consider themselves as practicing self-management for chronic conditions.
  • Culture-specific lifestyles, food habits, notions about health & wellbeing, and specific gender roles for women were considered the other barriers for self- management.

On Patient Feedback

  • Most of the men and women have never been asked to provide feedback by the authority.
  • The general fear is that the negative feedback may affect their future treatment at GP centres.
  • They felt unstructured questionnaires and a bi-lingual feedback system would be useful.

On Digitalisation

  • Remote monitoring using digital tools (e.g. mobile apps) was viewed as a potential way of increasing awareness of self-management as well as providing feedback.
  • Digital illiteracy and language barriers were perceived to be obstacles to the use of digital tools in healthcare. However, the joint family structure (which is a common practice among this community) was considered an enabling factor in this regard, as the digitally literate younger generation could help the digitally illiterate older generation.

It was recommended that further research needs to be conducted to develop culturally sensitive co-designed digital tools to improve feedback and self-management.

ReVerse: creative conversations between mental health service users and staff

6 Jun

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by Bella Starling

Mental health service users, carers and staff have much in common these days coping with stress and distress, especially at a time of huge pressure on services.

ReVerse workshops aim to equalise the space between mental health service users and staff, to creatively nurture insight, dialogue and healing relationships about patient safety in mental health services and research.

We think a good way to do this is through poetry and spoken word. Creative formats can provide a different angle and unique insight into ourselves, others and our collective wellbeing, and provide those who often feel they are not heard with an opportunity to express their voices. Exploring metaphor and meaning can offer new dimensions to personal and professional health and research relationships.

The workshops are open to mental health service users, carers and staff (including clinical, research, managerial, administrative and support staff). We aim to have an equal mix of staff and service users. ReVerse workshops will include:

  • Examples and readings of poetry and/or spoken word, drawing from different experiences of mental health 
  • Discussions and reflections
  • Having a go: producing your own poetry or prose.

The ReVerse initiative is a collaboration between David Gilbert (poet, Patient Director and mental health service user) and Bella Starling (Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow, Director of Public Programmes Team, Manchester University NHS Trust) and the NIHR Greater Manchester PSTRC.

For more information behind the workshops, see David’s recent blog post.

Our first workshop takes place in Ziferblat Media City on Tuesday 3 July, register your interest on our Eventbrite page. Registration is free, but requires a commitment to attend.

These workshops are pilots as part of an exciting new initiative. Those involved will help to shape the future development of this ReVerse Programme.

NHS70 Excellence in Primary Care Award for Nottingham’s Medicine Safety Research Group

22 May

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by Carly Rolfe, NIHR Greater Manchester PSTRC

The Medicine Safety Research Group at The University of Nottingham is the regional winner of the Excellence in Primary Care Award category of the NHS70 Parliamentary Awards and is shortlisted for the national award.

The research group was nominated by the East Midlands Academic Health Science Network (EM AHSN), who highlighted a number of developments which are already improving, and will continue to improve, prescribing safety in primary care. These include:

  1. Improving the safety of medicines prescribing through the design and testing of an intervention called PINCER.
  2. Development of ‘prescribing safety indicators’ which are now used in GP computer software to avoid prescribing errors
  3. Identifying the frequency, nature and causes of prescribing errors in general practice, leading to:
  4. Developed a Patient Safety Toolkit for GPs, which is available on the RCGP website and has been accessed over 10,000 times.

The Medication Safety theme of the NIHR Greater Manchester PSTRC has worked closely with the award-winning Nottingham-based research team on many of the developments. A number of these projects and interventions will be developed further over the coming years, through a continued collaboration between the Greater Manchester PSTRC and the University of Nottingham.