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08 October 2021

How Somerset NHS Foundation Trust and Radar Healthcare are working in partnership to spearhead a Safety II culture…

At last month’s Patient Safety Congress, our CEO Paul Johnson was joined in the Exchange Hall by Helen Hughes, Chief Executive of Patient Safety Learning and two expert guests from Somerset NHS Foundation Trust: Laura Walker, Head of Patient Safety and Learning, and Paula Wiggins, Governance Systems Manager/Safety Alerts Lead. The panel of speakers shared real life examples of: Safety II in action – spearheading a digital preventive approach to patient safety risks; followed by an audience Q&A.

Watch the session on demand here, or take a look at our summary below.

Top takeaways

  1. We’re stronger together - The importance of bringing together the best, most flexible technology, and the people who use it to improve safety was one of the session's strongest takeaways. Paula and Laura praised Radar Healthcare’s partnership way of working to truly help them utilise technology to make improvements, and Paul also acknowledged that the partnership is truly two-way saying: “We challenge each other.”

  2. Advanced tech doesn't have to be scary - While the detail behind advanced features such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning can seem complex, the panel all agreed that the real value of technology like Radar Healthcare is that no matter how many sophisticated features are added, it remains simple to use.

  3. People are the heart of Safety II - Helen was impressed by the speakers’ focus on culture change and the people using the technology, rather than just what technology can do. The full panel shared a passion for making technology inclusive and accessible to ensure both widespread use, efficiency gains, and improvement.

  4. The journey continues - Paula stressed the need to view the implementation of new technology as an ongoing journey, and Paul outlined a few of the features the Trust and Radar Healthcare are currently working on together to continue making organisational improvements. These include Natural Language Processing, Predictive Analytics, and Robotic Process Automation.


On 1 April 2020, two NHS Trusts started merging to form Somerset NHS Foundation Trust. Each of the two Trusts used a different risk management system, so went out to tender to find one system which could deliver everything the merging Trusts needed.

Paula described the complexities of bringing together a new organisation of 10,000 staff, lots of services and different work streams as like a jigsaw. One of the main reasons the Trust selected Radar Healthcare was due to its superior flexibility which was essential to cope with the complexities of such a large organisation.


Session summary

The Patient Safety Congress session focused on Somerset NHS FT’s move to a Safety II approach and how Radar Healthcare’s technology is supporting this.

In his opening statement, Paul urged all NHS organisations to have a digital strategy, outlining the benefits of gathering intelligence through digital technology, creating feedback loops, supporting digital inclusion, and the value of technological innovation in safety improvement – especially in terms of creating capacity within teams.

Real life examples

Laura then shared some of the ways Somerset NHS FT learn across the organisation to improve safety, and how technology underpins this. Her examples included weekly meetings between the governance team, patient safety team, and improvement team to discuss what’s happening right now this week and what they can do to make things better for next week. Data insights from incidents, excellence, complaints, claims and more are key to these meetings, and learning from excellence is a big focus.

Interestingly, Laura noted that many of the insights they discuss are about very individual and personal examples (such as someone taking the time to help a colleague learn) and seemingly small-scale initiatives driven by individuals. One example shared was an initiative to improve communication plans between young people having to stay in hospital and their parents – which is making a huge difference. She observed that while all of these things may sound small and can be easy to dismiss, they all contribute to an overall culture of kindness.

Another example of excellence Laura shared were ‘hot debriefs’ for the paediatric team who deal with very traumatic situations. The team have found that by holding a debrief right after the event is a useful way to discuss what went well and identify any immediate safety concerns, while also acknowledging the wellbeing of the team and the difficult situation they’ve just been part of. This has greatly improved the psychological safety of that environment.

The role of digital technology

Technology has proved key to gaining learnings like these as capturing incidents, excellence, risk and more in one easily accessible place helps the Trust understand what’s really happening across the organisation so they can understand where improvements can be made.


Audience Q&A

Laura answered that the real time information made available through Radar Healthcare has allowed a rapid response time, with the insight needed to make a difference available at the click of a button. This information feeds into a feedback loop across the organisation, including through a ‘Safety Spotlight’ feature made available to all staff on the Trust’s intranet.

Paula acknowledged that including the people who would be using Radar Healthcare was a huge part of creating a bespoke system for the Trust initially, and continues to be an essential part of their ongoing journey. Paul also commented on the importance of person centred design being at the heart of everything Radar Healthcare does. Not only do his team speak with users directly (rather than making assumptions of how the system will be used), they also monitor the system’s analytics to understand how people are using the software and make improvements accordingly.

Laura and Paula both acknowledged that, while they receive insight through PALS, the Trust is keen to make more use of this type of information and this features on their ongoing journey with digital technology. Paul offered an example from another Radar Healthcare customer who uses one of the system’s external web forms to capture feedback and insight from patients and family.

Paul confirmed that Radar Healthcare is fully compliant with the new Learn From Patient Safety Events (LFPSE) requirements. He said that not only were his team proud to be the first supplier to pass the LFPSE testing with NHS Improvement, one of their customers is soon to become the first Trust to go live with LFPSE. 


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