It is now well accepted that patients, their families and carers should be engaged in their care. What is only more recently becoming accepted is their wide ranging contribution to both their own safety, the safety of others, and the safety of healthcare systems. In this talk, Professor O’Hara presented a brief social history of the ‘patient involvement in patient safety’ movement, describing how it emerged alongside wider patient safety theory, policy and practice. She also described how patients and families have moved from being seen as passive recipients of care, to valuable partners in the provision of safe care. To illustrate, Professor O’Hara used examples from over a decade of research by the Yorkshire Quality & Safety Research Group, and discussed what it means for today’s policy and practice, and what it might mean for the future.
Jane O’Hara is Professor of Healthcare Quality and Safety, based within the School of Healthcare, University of Leeds. Since 2019, Jane has led a large, NIHR-funded programme of work aimed at co-designing and testing new processes for involving and engaging families in investigations and learning responses following healthcare safety events (https://learn-together.org.uk/). This work has had a significant impact, most recently informing the development of the new national level policy guidance: ‘Engaging and involving patients, families and staff following a patient safety incident’, with the NHSEI and Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch. Jane also leads the NIHR-funded Response Study, which seeks to evaluate the implementation of the new Patient Safety Incident Response Framework (PSIRF) across the English NHS (May 2022-July 2025). Jane is Deputy Director of the Yorkshire Quality and Safety Research Group, and as of April 2023, jointly leads a theme entitled ‘Safer Systems, Cultures and Practices’ with Professor Carl Macrae, within the NIHR Yorkshire & Humber Patient Safety Research Collaboration. Jane has over thirteen years’ experience of leading patient safety research, and a further eight years of applied psychological research prior to that. Her interests include: involving patients and families in investigations, safety initiatives and quality improvement; the measurement and monitoring of patient safety; safety theory and resilient healthcare approaches; and, co-production.