Safety Checklist - Questions everyone should ask about safety

Resource booklet for NHSScotland Board Members, with an interest in Clinical Governance.

Q2: Do we really have an open and fair culture?

Why is it important?

Staff are less likely to report errors or raise safety concerns if they are punished or blamed. Most errors are as a consequence of weaknesses in the system which then affect the performance of the individuals within that system. A culture of blame can drive reporting underground and prevent us from learning what makes things safer.

What does 'good' look like?

  • Our Chair and Chief Executive make a clear, public commitment to staff that the organisation fully supports an open and fair culture.
  • When things go wrong, staff feel able to be open, they are treated fairly and we identify the failures in the system and improve them.
  • Our Board take responsibility for system failures rather than seeking to blame specific individuals at the 'sharp end'.
  • Regular Board safety walkrounds provide an opportunity to talk to front-line staff, patients, their families and carers about their experiences and opportunities to improve safety.
  • Understanding the follow-up actions and response to safety walkrounds helps to create an open and fair culture and supports the principles of a learning organisation.


Email: Sarah Hildersley

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