The work of Patient Safety Learning

Written by | 17 Sep 2022 | 'In Discussion With'

Patient Safety Learning (PSL) is a charity that works as an independent voice for system-wide change through policy influencing, campaigning and promoting ‘how to’ resources for patient safety Improvement. The Patient Safety Learning Hub is an award-winning platform that serves as an open-access knowledge repository for information about patient safety. In this series of interviews Patient Safety Learning Chief Executive, Helen Hughes explains more about the organisation’s achievements and aspirations for the future.

One of PSL’s ambitions is to help health care as a system put safety as its core purpose rather than just “one priority of many”.  One of its guiding principles is that patient involvement is essential – not only at the point of care but also contributing to analyses when things go wrong and helping to design improved systems.

Although only three years old, Patient Safety Learning has already established thriving communities of practice and has run some very successful initiatives including a campaign to improve outpatient hysteroscopy services and a scheme to support staff involved in serious incidents.

More than 20 percent of women who undergo outpatient hysteroscopy experience significant pain. Stories from hundreds of women have now been captured on the Hub and feedback from people all over the globe shows that they are using the material to find “what good practice looks like”, says Ms Hughes.

Being involved in unsafe care can be deeply traumatising for healthcare professionals – and some people never work again after an incident where a patient was harmed. PSL has worked with experts to define good practice in this area and to ensure that staff are treated with courtesy, dignity and support.

During the coronavirus pandemic PSL took the opportunity to consolidate some of its work and develop a major policy report called A Blueprint for Action that builds on thinking and research over the past 15 to 20 years. This was followed this year by  Mind the implementation gap: The persistence of avoidable harm in the NHS  that tackles that issue of turning knowledge and recommendations into improved systems.

“We should be providing healthcare professionals with the environment that enables them to do their job safely and to provide safe care for their patients and families – and we’re not doing that as well as we ought to, says Ms Hughes.

Helen Hughes has held leadership roles in healthcare in the UK and the WHO, the National Patient Safety Agency, Equality and Human Rights Commission, Parliamentary Health Services Ombudsman and the Charity Commission. Helen’s previous leadership roles in patient safety include, Director of Operations of the National Patient Safety Agency and executive lead of the global ‘Patients for Patient Safety’ programme at the WHO.

Patient Safety Learning’s the hub is an award-winning platform to share learning for patient safety. It offers a powerful combination of tools, resources, stories, ideas, case studies and good practice to anyone who wants to make care safer for patients. Its communities of interest give people a place to discuss patient safety concerns and how to address them. Membership is free – you can register at

Read and watch the full series on our website or on YouTube.

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