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New research to improve safety in UK healthcare

Alison Leary, a Professor in LSBU's School of Health and Social Care, will be researching how safety culture can be improved in UK healthcare
18 March 2016

Alison Leary, Professor of Healthcare Modelling at London South Bank University (LSBU), has been awarded a prestigious Churchill Fellowship to research how safety culture in the healthcare sector can be improved.

Professor Leary, one of several recent recipients of a Travelling Fellowship from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, will travel to the USA to learn more about safety critical industries outside of healthcare. Professor Leary will travel to a number of locations including NASA’s headquarters, where she will study the safety systems and processes the organisation has in place for its pioneering work in space.

By visiting NASA’s Safety and Mission Assurance teams Professor Leary hopes to understand how the organisation underwent a cultural shift to safety. Her findings will be published later this year in a report that will assist UK healthcare providers to develop models for best practice in their own safety-critical work.

Professor Leary commented: “With the Francis Enquiry mandating hospitals to improve their safety cultures, there is now a renewed duty to create a culture of openness and transparency in the NHS, so that safety-critical work can be carried out successfully.

“Shifting the culture of a workplace is never easy, but looking to other safety-critical industries outside of the healthcare sector might help hospitals and other providers to adopt models of work that have already been proven to be successful. I am looking forward to learning more about the processes that other industries have in place, and in turn helping healthcare providers to improve safety culture here in the UK.”

Since its inception in February 1965, over 5,250 ordinary British men and women have been awarded Churchill Fellowships, from over 100,000 applicants. The ethos remains the same five decades on – for individuals to visit different parts of the world in pursuit of new and better ways of tackling a wide range of social, environmental, medical and scientific issues, in order to bring back new approaches and innovative ideas to Britain, for the benefit of their local and regional communities and the nation.

“Churchill Fellows travel globally and return with innovative ideas and a commitment to sharing their findings to help others in the UK,” says Julia Weston, Chief Executive of The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.

Professor Alison Leary is Chair of Healthcare Modelling in LSBU’s School of Health and Social Care, which is one of the largest providers of clinical education for allied health and related professions in the UK.