This important theme recognises that patients are crucial partners in the quality and safety of care. Patient engagement and patient-centred care are now cornerstones of care delivery within UK healthcare. Our team is at the forefront of research considering how best to engage with patients, service users, families and carers in a range of safety initiatives, across acute care, primary care and mental healthcare. We recognise that patients are uniquely positioned to help health services monitor, manage and improve safety, as they represent the one common presence across all healthcare encounters. We therefore prioritise research to understand how to successfully partner with patients, service users, families and carers in supporting safety, and how to support healthcare staff to use this information effectively.

We will create and test tools that support patient, service user, family and carer involvement across the pathway of care.

We have a number of projects underway, and you can find out more about some of our key projects below.

Patients as prompts: Promoting early diagnosis in primary care

One of the key research projects in our theme is the development and testing of a tool to support patients and primary care healthcare professionals in achieving a faster cancer diagnosis in primary care. Our tool may help to support safety netting within a primary care consultation, particularly for vague symptoms that may be related to cancer, and guide patients in making decisions about when to come back if symptoms persist, become more severe or change. You can find out more about this project here.

Sharing safety successes: Supporting better use of patient feedback for service improvement

We recognise that patient engagement can take many forms, and one of our other key research projects is exploring how patients provide feedback about the quality and safety of their care online. Our research aims to understand how organisations respond to patient feedback delivered online, and to do this, we are partnering with Care Opinion – the UK’s largest independent, not-for-profit repository for online patient feedback. You can find out more about this project here.

Plugging in the safety gaps: Exploring an integrative approach to gather safety information from patients

Patients have expressed growing interest in having access to their personal health information, and internationally there has been increasing policy focus on patient and care records being more accessible. This project aims to explore the feasibility and acceptability of using a digital, integrative approach to gathering quality and safety information from patients about their care from the perspectives of patients and primary care staff. You can find out more about this project here.

Service user and carer involvement in the safety of mental healthcare services

While there has been a significant research focus on patient safety within acute hospital and primary care settings, there has been much less research into the identification of safety issues in UK mental healthcare services, despite continuing serious failures in service provision. This project aims to progress our understanding of service user and carer involvement in mental healthcare safety. You can find out more about this project here.

Patient and family involvement in serious incident investigations (PFI-SII)

We have recently been awarded funding from the NIHR Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) Programme. This project aims to co-design processes and resources to guide the role of patients and families in serious incident investigations at a national, and local level, and to test these processes to understand their impact upon experience, learning and likelihood of seeking legal recourse. You can find out more about this project here.

Theme lead:
Dr Jane O’Hara

Deputy theme lead:
Professor John Baker

Key people:
Kate Smyth (Lay Leader), Dr Gemma Louch (PIPS theme Senior Research Fellow), Dr Abigail  Albutt (PIPS theme Research Fellow), Dr Laura Sheard, Dr James Munro, Dr Claire Marsh, Dr Jane Heyhoe, Dr Kathryn Berzins, Caroline Reynolds, Sally Moore, Dr Naomi Quinton, Lauren Ramsey, Mary Smith, Dr Binish Khatoon, Dr Beth Fylan, Dr Jonathan Benn