Celebrating pharmacy teams who put patient safety at the heart of everything they do

After the success of the 4th LloydsPharmacy SaferCare Conference and Awards, Victoria Steele, head of clinical governance and professional standards, shares her thoughts on the importance of building a stronger safety culture in pharmacy.

You’ll often hear the phrase ‘safety culture’ mentioned in healthcare circles, but what does it actually mean? Over the last few years at LloydsPharmacy, we’ve been on a mission to embed our patient safety programme, SaferCare, which was designed to improve our clinical standards.

A true safety cultures goes beyond standards, it requires everyone to take responsibility for patient safety, whatever their role within the business. It also relies on the drive for continuous improvement and sharing of best practice – which as healthcare professionals is something we should all be supporting.

One of the highlights of my year is the LloydsPharmacy SaferCare Conference and Awards where we get to celebrate the work that our incredible pharmacy teams are doing to make the patient journey even safer. It’s a day when, as professionals, we can all focus on the most important thing – protecting our patients and improving care.

With 237 million medication errors occurring in England every year, one of the workshops at this year’s conference focused on ways to reduce look-alike sound-alike (LASA) errors. Our SaferCare champions discussed and shared ideas about how we eliminate amlodipine/amitriptyline errors from our estate. The challenge to the business now, is to drive out all associated errors by November 2020.

We take the approach that it is not simply enough to log errors and near misses, we need to learn from them and put actions in place to make sure they never happen again. Behind every one of those 237 million errors is a patient, a family member or a colleague and remembering that really helps our pharmacy teams to take ownership of their patient safety activity.

Through SaferCare we encourage our colleagues to freely share information, report on near misses and highlight when things go wrong, so we can put them right, and learn from these incidents together. It is this openness and transparency that breeds a true safety culture and makes sure that our people are free to evaluate themselves and how we work. The more we share, the more we reduce the risk.

The theme for this year’s conference was respect, trust and teamwork. We were delighted to be joined by guest speaker Stewart Campbell who shared with us his experience as a Red Arrow pilot. His story really resonated with me from when I first began my career in the Superintendent’s office. Stewart spoke about the consequences of failing being life changing and emphasised the importance of safety, honesty, teamwork and learning from your mistakes. The parallels between the two professions are striking and just like our ICARE values, which underpin everything we do, the French term ‘Eclat’, meaning brilliance, underpins everything The Red Arrows do.

The day concluded with the Safer Care Awards, kindly sponsored by Accord, which recognised four special individuals who are true ambassadors for Safer Care. Helen Lawrenson was crowned Best Newcomer, Kate Stephens received the award for Leader of the Year, John Devaney took home the Special Recognition award and Zowie Thomas scooped up both a Divisional Award and SaferCare Award for Outstanding Contribution.

As much as the day is about celebrating success, sharing ideas and best practice, it’s also about what pharmacy teams do every day. A few of the delegates shared with us their proudest moments of 2019. These real-life stories brought to life the impact our pharmacy teams have on the lives of their customers and patients and demonstrates the immense value of community pharmacy.

By putting patient safety at the heart of all that we do and constantly improving our safety culture, we enable pharmacists to spend more time focusing on services which means better care for our communities.