UK Leadership can help reduce infection rates

Leadership in Health Services

ISSN: 1751-1879

Article publication date: 2 May 2008




(2008), "UK Leadership can help reduce infection rates", Leadership in Health Services, Vol. 21 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

UK Leadership can help reduce infection rates

Article Type: News and views From: Leadership in Health Services, Volume 21, Issue 2.


Keywords: Shared leadership, Patient safety, Cultural change

Health Foundation assistant director for leadership, Jan Walmsley, has backed comments by junior health minister, Lord Darzi, on the importance of leadership in making hospitals safer for patients.

Lord Darzi was questioned by the Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Sandra Gidley MP at a November health select committee meeting about the causes of the recent Clostridium difficile outbreak at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust.

“It has been poor leadership in some of these organisations that have had significant outbreaks of the type that we have seen in the last week,” Lord Darzi said. “I work in organisations which deliver healthcare and I know exactly the ones who have the right leadership in ensuring that [safety] is part of the culture.”

In response to Lord Darzi’s comments, Ms Walmsley said: “Recent events have shown how important leadership is in reducing harm to patients.” She also supported his claim that the safety of patients should be the priority of everyone working in the NHS.

“At the Health Foundation, we are trialling ways to develop a culture of leadership across a hospital in order to really make sustainable improvements in patient safety,” she continued. “Central to this culture has been shared leadership where everyone takes responsibility for safety, knows what is happening, what their role is and how they contribute to change.”

“For example, the 24 hospitals involved in the safer patients initiative are using ward-level safety briefings and senior team walk-rounds to improve hand hygiene compliance and to promote a safety culture.

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