Huddle Up for Safer Healthcare: Scaling up safety huddles across 5 Yorkshire hospital sites

This is a 30-month project funded by The Health Foundation 


This is a 30-month project funded by The Health Foundation.
The work started over 2 years ago (late 2013) on 4 wards in Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust where the Improvement Academy worked with those teams to develop and test 'patient safety huddles' and measure their impact on patient harm.

The patient safety huddles are led by the most senior clinician and take place at a regular time each day for 5–15 minutes.

They provide a non-judgemental, no-fear space in the daily workflow of all ward staff. Team members develop confidence to speak up and jointly act on any safety concerns they have. They become a vehicle for ward teams to continually learn and improve.

This work also involves the introduction of improvement tools, including regular measurement of progress and celebration of success through awarding certificates and provision of Statistical Process Control (SPC) charts to track progress on identified harms which are chosen by the ward themselves – usually Falls, Pressure Ulcers and 2222 calls, although we are also working on some specialised bespoke harms such as transfers to elderly care, VTE (Venous Thromboembolism) assessments and readmissions.

The University of Bradford is evaluating the project using the results of the Teamwork and Safety Climate surveys, observations of huddles, interviews with staff involved in huddles and SPC charts.

The early results from the evaluation team have demonstrated a reduction in the number of falls, an increase in overall staff morale and improved teamwork.

We are also using a Behavioural Change tool to identify any barriers and enablers to implementing patient safety huddles. This will help in the learning for any other teams planning to undertake the scaling up of patient safety huddles in their Trust.




The Aims of our project:

  • Implementation of Patient Safety Huddles in all teams across five acute hospitals in the three partner NHS Trusts:
    • Leeds General Infirmary, St James’ Hospital & Chapel Allerton Hospital (97 in-patient wards) – Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
    • Barnsley General Hospital (28 in-patient wards) – Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
    • Scarborough Hospital (14 in-patient wards) – York Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • To deliver demonstrable improvements in ward-level patient safety culture
  • To deliver a significant reduction in patient harm
  • To determine the whole-system benefits and challenges of implementing patient safety huddles at scale, in hospitals of different sizes and contexts, and draw out the implications of this for healthcare providers striving to be high-reliability organisations
  • To disseminate learning regionally across the AHSN geography in Yorkshire and Humber, nationally across the NHS, and internationally

The project is progressing well with early evaluation results showing signs of an increase in staff morale and improved team working.To see some of our happy teams huddling, have a look at our HUSH Impact Case Study.


Yorkshire Huddles

The Improvement Academy is supporting frontline teams across Yorkshire and Humber to integrate multi professional safety huddles into their routine clinical care as part of a systematic approach to reducing harm.

Further Information:

Huddles Manual

Overview of Safety Huddles

Prompt sheet for Falls

Prompt sheet for Deteriorating Patients

Prompt sheet for Pressure Ulcers

Teamwork and Safety Climate Survey

Barriers and Facilitators to Patient Safety Huddles Questionnaire

Impact Case Study: Huddle Up for Safer Healthcare



Alison Lovatt


01274 383934