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There is growing discussion about the need to disseminate learning from when things go wrong, or even when they go right. How do we reach, and more importantly engage, the wide range of staff groups within our organisations? We all experience daily information overload with posters, briefs, and emails. As a junior doctor I wanted to receive one source of information that clearly summarised patient safety issues and alerts, ways that I could get involved in patient safety or quality improvement (QI) work, and places where I could find out more.

How do we reach, and more importantly engage, the wide range of staff groups within our organisations?

Working closely with the Trust’s patient safety lead and the Junior Doctors Safety Improvement Group we decided to consolidate the information relating to safety and QI for junior doctors into a monthly newsletter. We have just circulated the 18th issue of ‘Patient Safety Matters’ including articles on nutrition, Vancomycin, safe prescribing of medications, local anaesthetic systemic toxicity, and upcoming conferences. The newsletter (view a PDF) is now read by a much wider audience from pharmacists to consultants to dieticians.

 

 

We have just circulated the 18th issue of ‘Patient Safety Matters’ including articles on nutrition, Vancomycin, safe prescribing of medications, local anaesthetic systemic toxicity, and upcoming conferences

We wanted to share a few reasons why we think the newsletter works well:

  1. Design and distribution
    We wanted to make it eye-catching, informative and not too long. We decided to limit the newsletter to 4 sides, i.e. A3 folded to make a booklet. We use a vibrant colour scheme with standardised brand so the newsletter is easily recognisable. The newsletter is distributed to staff by email in PDF format, and printed copies are distributed throughout the trust. Back copies are available within the Trust’s intranet.
  2. Content
    The tag line of the newsletter is ‘Promoting a culture of safety and quality among junior doctors’ and we really wanted this to be an exercise in engagement rather than just notification. We encourage junior doctors to work with their seniors or allied health professionals to write articles. Researching and writing the articles on topics relating to safety and QI means that junior doctors are learning and sharing with their peers. The articles are intentionally short (200-300 words) and usually come with graphics. Key messages and learning are highlighted as we want the articles to be informative and to guide better practice. The newsletter is a great opportunity to feedback on trends and themes from incident reporting which is often an area that front line NHS staff feel is lacking. As it’s mainly directed at doctors the newsletter always contains a section on medication related alerts and errors. We try to use real stories to provide context to the learning.
  3. Editorial Group
    The newsletter draws on the Trust’s staff for its content but we have a small editorial team which guides content and makes sure each months issue is relevant and accurate. The group consists of the Deputy Director for Patient Safety, Medications Safety Officer (senior pharmacist), Clinical Leadership Fellow (Junior Doctor) and two other junior doctors, Patient Safety Programme Support Officer, and Deputy Medical Director.

In reality it is likely that sharing learning about safety and QI will be most effective when done through a variety of routes and mediums; we would like to promote ‘for the people by the people’ newsletter as a valuable option as part of a multi-faceted approach.

We have included an example of the newsletter and would be more than happy to answer any questions that people might have.

William Lea
Clinical Leadership Fellow

Diane Palmer
Deputy Director for Patient Safety
York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

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