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Beth Fylan

Yorkshire and Humber Region awarded funding for prestigious research collaboration to address patient safety challenges

Today (14 Oct), the National Institute for Health Research and Care (NIHR) announced funding for six Patient Safety Research Collaborations across England.

Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (BTHFT) and the University of Leeds have been successful in attracting £5.8 million of funding to become one of these six centres: the NIHR Yorkshire and Humber Patient Safety Research Collaboration (PSRC).

Patient safety is a global priority. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that while the risk of dying while travelling by aeroplane is 1 in 3 million; 1 in 300 people are estimated to die as a result of a ‘preventable medical accident while receiving health care’. Research has an important role in providing evidence based solutions to patient safety problems across health and social care.

Yorkshire and Humber PSRC Director Rebecca Lawton, Professor in Psychology of Healthcare at the University of Leeds, explained: “Over the last five years we have been developing innovative approaches to make our NHS safer, including involving patients more in their care, reducing burnout among staff, and designing new devices and systems. This new centre will allow us to build on our success, become a global leader in patient safety and produce solutions to new and pressing patient safety challenges.”

Chairman of BTHFT, Dr Maxwell Mclean, said: “Bradford Teaching Hospitals has been at the cutting edge of patient safety research for the last 10 years. This award is a reflection of the great talent of our researchers and the amazing support from our patients.”

The research carried out by the PSRCs will address strategic patient safety challenges within the health and care system, focusing on seven strategic areas set out by NHS England.

Professor Simone Buitendijk, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds, said: “Improving patient safety is a top priority for all those involved in healthcare. By working collaboratively – bringing together experts in the field and patients themselves – we can help achieve the continuous improvement aims set out in the NHS Patient Safety Strategy.”

To deliver this ambitious programme of research, the team hosted by Bradford will work with a wide range of partners. University of Bradford will lead one of the themes of work and academics from universities of Nottingham, York and Oxford will be closely involved. Health and care organisations, charities, industry and patient groups will work with the centre to deliver research that meets the needs of patients and the service.

Chief Medical Officer of BTHFT, Dr Ray Smith, added: “This is a fantastic achievement for all involved. By bringing together leading scientists and clinicians to develop new approaches to improving the quality and safety for patients in the NHS we will make changes which have a national impact, and that’s very good news for patients.”

The national funding is an evolution of the current NIHR Patient Safety Translational Research Centre (PSTRC) scheme. Previous research undertaken through the scheme has already had an impact on NHS frontline services. The funding we have received over the past five years from NIHR has supported the team:

Develop an intervention to reduce delays in diagnosing cancer in primary care;  demonstrate how people with learning disabilities experience poorer patient safety outcomes in hospital; and work with older patients, doctors, nurses and pharmacists to develop tools that support safer use of medicines e.g. . We have also designed tools that help healthcare staff to make more accurate decisions about which patients in their care are most poorly and designed and evaluated training and resources to reduce staff burnout and help retain staff e.g.

Over the next five years, the PSRCs will help researchers to develop and test innovations, approaches and interventions that could improve patient safety and the safety of health and care services. The funding will also enable partnerships to be built between health and care organisations, universities, local authorities, and patients and the public.

For more information about how to get involved in the work of the Yorkshire and Humber collaboration, visit:

If you are a patient, carer or an interested citizen, you can join the Safety In Numbers Group (SING), work with us through our community networks or get involved as a lay leader. If you are a member of staff in a health or social care setting and you want to find out more about the work of the centre or to join one of the projects, please keep an eye on the website for opportunities for short and long-term secondments, developing and testing new solutions and training. Contact Sobia Bibi or Lucy Chapman at


Our changing role during the COVID-19 crisis

We wish to extend our gratitude and support to our NHS colleagues who are giving their all to tackle the current COVID-19 crisis. Our thoughts are with them and the patients and families who are fighting the illness.

In line with national strategy we have paused our planned research studies where it has been safe to so. This is so that resources can be re-allocated to essential duties. We are, however, assessing where our expertise can best be placed to understand more about how the safety of staff and patients can be supported during the COVID-19 response. To this end, we are either launching or designing several new studies drawing on our patient safety knowledge to contribute to the incredible work being undertaken by healthcare and academic experts.

New studies either underway or being prepared include:

  • Developing an understanding how a healthcare organisation responds to a public health crisis.
  • Exploring patient and carer roles in safety during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Developing an evidence-based guide for NHS managers/supervisors on how to support staff wellbeing during COVID-19.
  • The impact of COVID 19 on medicines safety.

If you wish to find out more about any of these studies, please contact us.






Setting the agenda for future patient safety research

The research team at the NIHR Yorkshire and Humber Patient Safety Translational Research Centre (PSTRC) needs your help developing its future research agenda. We want you to challenge us with your ideas for patient safety research for the next 5-10 years, informed by your knowledge of delivering, receiving or researching care.

You can tell us what you think by suggesting research questions here:

Or read on for some background about patient safety and about our PSTRC.

What is patient safety?
Patient safety is the ‘prevention of errors and adverse effects to patients associated with health care’.(1) We know that in the UK, Europe, Australia and the US, about 1 in 10 patients admitted to hospital suffer some harm that is preventable. Since the late 1990s there has been a focus on preventing this unintended harm to patients. The focus of attention can often be on serious failures in care, such as wrong site surgery, incorrect doses of medication or feeding tubes inserted into the lungs that cause harm or even death. Yet the 2010 Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Inquiry led by Sir Robert Francis brought attention to the ‘considerable suffering’ patients experienced due to failures of basic care such as hydration and hygiene.(2) Reports such as this have highlighted how safety problems are rarely caused by individuals, but by “systems, procedures, conditions, environment and constraints”. (3)

Recently, patient safety researchers have called for a new focus on what goes right in healthcare, instead of the focus on deconstructing incidents, recognising that for most patients healthcare is successful and they are unharmed. They have argued that emphasis must be placed on understanding how staff members adapt their performance to prevent harm occurring in response to difficult and varying conditions. (4)

What is a patient safety translational research centre (PSTRC)?
A PSTRC develops and tests ideas and tools to improve the safety of patient care. Our Yorkshire and Humber PSTRC started delivering research in August 2017 and our priority research areas for the first two years are already set – they include enabling patients to play a central role in their own safety, the potential for digital technology to improve safety, how we create workplaces that people want to work in, and how we can enhance the safe use of medicines across care settings. You can find out more about our work on our website.

We now want to find out what you think the most important safety improvement research questions are so we can plan our future work. So far our advisory board, clinician and patient groups have given us an idea of what they think is important. Here’s a taste of what they have asked us – you can tell us if you agree.

  • Can you really hand over a patient safely in 15 minutes?
  • What do sheltered care homes have a protocol to dial 999 for every fall?
  • How do we reduce barriers to staff being heard in teams due to hierarchy, power, ethnicity, and gender?
  • Is it safe for patients to self-administer medicines on the ward?
  • Is there a link between patient safety incidents and a lack of activity on mental health wards?

Over to you

We want you to tell us what you think the most important patient safety research questions are. You may have ideas from a recent experience of care or from your experiences in delivering care. You may agree with some of the questions above or think that some vital areas for research are missing.

Tell us what you think by submitting research questions here:




1 The World Health Organization. Patient Safety. 2018. Available online

2 The Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Inquiry. Independent Inquiry into care provided by Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust January 2005 – March 2009. 2010.

3 National Advisory Group on the Safety of Patients in England. A Promise to Learn – a Comittment to Act. Improving the Safety of Patients in England. 2013.

4 Braithwaite, J., Wears, R.L., Hollnagel, E. Resilient health care: turning patient safety on its head, International Journal for Quality in Health Care, 2015;27(5):418–420.



This project is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Yorkshire and Humber Patient Safety Translational Research Centre (NIHR Yorkshire and Humber PSTRC). The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, or the Department of Health and Social Care.