Proximie’s mission is to enable safe surgery across the world, but there are significant challenges facing healthcare, especially in the UK’s NHS. We have a golden opportunity to improve patient safety in surgery, but action is required to make that ambition a reality.
Since 2015, there has been a 30% increase in the proportion of procedures with a safety incident and in 2021/2022 there were 407 Never Events – more than one a day., with the cost of poor patient safety in surgery to the UK economy is estimated to be around £5.6bn a year. Technology has the potential to change the way things are done for the better, but more needs to be done to bring this issue to light.
Proximie authored a report based on new analysis of NHS data, the perspectives of 1,500 UK patients who have undergone surgery in the last five years, and input from experts. We embarked on this project with the support of key voices in surgical safety to raise awareness of this important issue, explore the challenges facing patient safety in surgery and ideate and share how we can change the trajectory.
Our aim was to define recommendations for policy makers, clinical teams and stakeholders which could turn the dial on patient safety in surgery.
Our group included leading surgeons, who understand life in the operating room, healthcare leaders, who understand systemic problems, and a patient advocate, who understands the needs of patients:
We explored the challenges facing patient safety in surgery, and reflected on the experience of patients because it is critical that patients are at the heart of any discussion about surgery reform. We recommend that to truly make a change to patient safety in surgery we must set the safety bar higher, improve data standards, develop a culture of continuous learning, always learn from examples of best practice, include patients at every step, encourage a ‘speaking up’ culture, and push for innovation.
To better understand the current thoughts and opinions on safety during surgery, we surveyed 1,500 people from the UK who have undergone either elective or emergency surgery in the last five years and found that 76% had safety concerns during the surgery process. The safety concerns that patients experience also have a significant impact on their wellbeing with:
All the insight gained from surgeons, patients, and NHS and patient safety leaders, combined with unique data analysis formed our report, Patient safety in surgery: the urgent need for reform. The whitepaper highlights that to reform patient safety and make lasting improvements, a system wide cultural change is required. As well as analysing the current state of patient safety in surgery, the contributors to decline, and the barriers to reform, we conclude with seven suggestions for all healthcare staff to consider in order for lasting change to occur. These are:
For more detail about the insight underlying our recommendations, the full white paper Patient safety in surgery: the urgent need for reform, can be read here.