Debate on the Scottish Patient Safety Programme

Clare spoke in Parliament about the fantastic results that we are seeing from the Scottish Patient Safety Programme in mental health treatment.

A full transcript is below the video


I refer members to my entry in the register of members’ interests as a registered mental health nurse.

I am proud to say that Scotland’s health services are again leading the world in innovation. Because of the Government’s commitment to the sector, we are rolling out new ways of delivering healthcare in 21st century Scotland. The wider integration of health and social care—which, again, has been spearheaded by the SNP Government—is an acknowledgement that caring for individuals without looking at all their needs can get us only so far. We recognise that in Scotland we need an holistic system if we are to tackle problems with multiple contributing factors, and the Scottish patient safety programme recognises that, too.

Nowhere is that more evident than in what was my clinical practice—mental health services. When we look to treat the person rather than the condition, we take into account their experience of their illness, their individual strengths and what their recovery means to them. That approach is especially relevant for people who are receiving treatment from mental health services, because those patients frequently experience the kinds of unique challenges that the SPSP tackles.

The programme does that through five main workstreams: safer medicines management, risk assessment, violence and restraint reduction, communication and strong leadership. That five-pronged process works by placing on healthcare professionals the requirement to gather information systematically on those key areas and to tailor their care for the individual accordingly, based on evidence.

The patient safety climate tool was created to deliver that and to ensure that patients’ voices are heard when their care is being planned. The tool invites patients with mental illness to record their experiences of receiving treatment, from how they feel on the ward to how their medication is affecting them. Staff are committed to acting on the feedback that the patient gives them. For patients, it is an empowering experience.

However, it is more than that; it is an extremely effective system, and its success is borne out in the figures.

More than 600 patient safety climate tools and 3,000 staff climate surveys have been completed in the past four years. Those have gathered patient and staff feedback—a huge amount of real intelligence on patients’ experiences and the experiences of staff on the wards. It is already having a demonstrable effect on care, with participating wards showing massive improvements. My colleague Maree Todd alluded to the following: there are reductions in restraint of up to 57 per cent, reductions of up to 70 per cent in the number of patients who self-harm and reductions in rates of violence of up to 78 per cent. Those are amazing figures that all of us in the chamber can support. When violence drops to a quarter of the existing level and when self-harm drops to less than a third, that is a massive improvement in the lives of real people—patients and health professionals. It presents a fantastic opportunity to improve mental healthcare nationwide and to share our learning internationally. Those numbers should be applauded: they are concrete evidence that using a human-rights-centred approach in mental healthcare simply works.

When we engage with patients, use their feedback and tailor their care and environment appropriately, everyone involved benefits. When we empower healthcare workers to share their experiences, to learn from their patients and to tailor their approach, we ensure that care is personal and that outcomes are improved for everyone. We are fortunate, with a devolved NHS, that we can seek to implement holistic human-rights-centred solutions to the specific problems that Scotland faces. With mental health wards already experiencing the benefits, I look forward to the approach rolling out to more services across the country.

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