Westmead Private Hospital
Part of Ramsay Health Care


Westmead Private Hospital Launches “Speak Up for Patient Safety” Programme

Jun 18, 2019

Westmead Private Hospital will be introducing a program that encourages staff to challenge colleagues who could be putting patients at risk on Monday 17th June.

Ramsay Health Care is the first private hospital operator in Australia to introduce the program, which is based on a system developed more than 15 years ago by Vanderbilt University in the US.

More than 300 staff, including doctors, have received assertiveness training and information.

Ramsay argues it is not about “dobbing in” colleagues but is designed to make staff more assertive in addressing potentially unsafe behaviour.

The rules apply to everyone including senior staff so on one is beyond scrutiny. The program has two parts, initially encouraging staff to speak up on the spot if they see a colleague acting in a way that could put patients at risk, such as failing to wash their hands.

The second part promotes professional accountability and includes confidential reporting about unsafe behaviour without fear of reprisals. This is to be used when ‘speaking up’ is not used in the moment.

Some staff have been assigned to receive and act on the reports, while others have been trained to carry out informal ‘coffee conversations’ with their peers to discuss concerns raised.

Chief Executive Officer, Mike Flatley, said the program has received support from doctors and other staff “we already provide good-quality care for patients but we want to improve it even more by providing feedback to staff in a constructive and positive way”, he said.

“What we’re saying is that we’re all human and if you see something happening that may harm a patient you should query it at that time, instead of just assuming the doctor or nurse knows what they’re doing. If we are all watching each other and speaking up a very safe environment is the result”.