Safety Huddles

In a nutshell:  The Improvement Academy is supporting frontline teams to integrate multi professional safety huddles into their routine clinical care as part of a systematic approach to reducing harm. Team huddles, led by senior clinicians, involve all levels of trained and untrained staff and provide important space for discussion of patient safety issues. 


The Challenge

In the UK over the past decade a range of local, national and international patient safety initiatives designed to improve patient safety, with a few notable exceptions, have failed to demonstrate a convincing impact on patient harm. We believe that this is in part because the work has not, so far, tackled patient safety culture and behaviours in frontline teams.

What are we doing about it?

We are supporting frontline teams to develop, test and integrate safety huddles into their daily ward routines including measurement of impacts on patient safety and their team safety culture.

There is no top-down imposing of priorities, standards or performance management targets. These features ensure that patient safety huddles become an integral part to the delivery of safe care. 

What are the principles of an effective huddle?

Patient safety huddles are clinically led and locally owned.  Key content for discussions are tested and adapted by the team to fit their local context. Examples include which patients most are most at risk from falls and pressure ulcers. Huddles are:

  • Clinically led by the most senior clinician
  • Involve the multi-professional team of all levels including support staff such as ward clerks, housekeepers and domestics
  • Happen every day at an allocated time in a timely efficient manner
  • Are brief (5-15 minutes)
  • Focus on safety issues “what might stop us keeping our patients safe?”

Some of the teams who have successfully embedded huddles into their ward routine have significantly reduced harm, such as falls, and have improved their scores in team safety culture surveys.

Watch our Huddling Up for Safer Healthcare (HUSH) video here.




 The Health Foundation HUSH Project

(Huddle Up for Safer Healthcare)

The Health Foundation, in partnership with Leeds Teaching Hospitals has funded a 30-month project to scale up patient safety huddles in 3 Acute Trusts.  For further information on this project, click here.

Our future plans

We will continue to scale up and spread our success across the region to ensure that patient safety huddles and improving safety culture become integral to the work of frontline teams in providing safe care. Additionally we will continue to share all the learning across the region on the best approaches to improving team safety culture.

Patient Voice

The AHSN Improvement Academy is using an innovative method of capturing the 'voice of patients' in improving the safety of their healthcare. Read about the PRASE (Patient Reporting and Action for a Safe Environment) tool here.