MSc Patient Safety

14 Nov 2016: Dr Mike Durkin after his keynote address to the first cohort of MSc Patient Safety students.

We know that education and training are immensely important in ensuring patient safety. We also know that its benefits are not just direct (i.e. the attainment of knowledge and skills), but also include more nuanced gains (i.e. better communication skills, better teamwork, time for reflection which can contribute to overall personal growth). At Imperial College London, we’ve worked in patient safety for a long time (2002!) We’ve also worked in education and training for a long time. In fact, we’ve worked at the intersect of education/training and patient safety since 2007, with our MSc programme Quality and Safety in Healthcare.

Last year (2016) signalled a big year for us – it was the launch of our revamped programme in Patient Safety (PG Cert, PG Dip and MSc Patient Safety). After working alongside Health Education England, as their academic partner, for the better part of a year, we translated our learnings into a new and improved programme. Why did we do this? Because:

  • Students told us that lectures do not work in solo and that a mixed style of learning works better;
  • The technology to deliver high-quality, high-impact teaching has improved by leaps and bounds since we last designed the programme;
  • Students told us they needed more concentrated teaching blocks to get the most out of part-time study (most of our students were and remain fully employed during their periods of study).

So we listened.

What students can expect from the new programme? Here are just a few:

What did students think of the new programme, after having experienced the first block of teaching? Below is a blog post by Ms Sarah Waters, detailing her personal journey. It’s not always exciting and positive, as change the being the agent of change is often hard. But what we see from Sarah and most other students, after completing the programme, is a sustained passion for improvement and a better understanding of the tools available to do so.

The 2017 intake is now open, to find out more information, please:

My week in MSc Patient Safety

by Sarah Waters

It’s not often that you have an opportunity to be lectured by some of the most knowledgeable and insightful people in a given field, yet somehow this past week I have found myself among the lucky few that have had that privilege. Our group has been advantageous in the sense that we are a diverse bunch from all over the country, clinical and non-clinical, based at a local trust level and at a national oversight level. Yet I can guarantee that none of us could have foreseen the emotional roller coaster we would be riding during this week.

I have experienced ups and downs throughout the course…at one moment you are so inspired that you believe that you can achieve anything and in the next you are reminded of the almost impossible task you are up against. I think many of us have simultaneously realised the changes we would like to implement, and the barriers we are up against.

We have heard stories from each other, be they at national or local level, each one of them encouraging and tragic, because for every initiative that was thought of, and implemented, it was preceded by a trigger.

In the current climate clinicians are expected to take on roles in quality that they do not have time for and have not been trained in. The enthusiasm is apparent but the support is not. Quality is understood as a necessity but the provisions for training, protected time, and leadership have not been upheld.

I have been happy to learn over this week that there is a myriad of people who want to drive quality and patient safety within the NHS. Unfortunately, they feel stunted by the by the lack of support given to them. What I have taken away from this is that sustainable quality is not something that needs to be forced, but it is something that needs to be allowed.



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