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Organisational trust: the keystone to patient safety
  1. J Firth-Cozens
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor J Firth-Cozens
 Special Advisor on Modernisation, Postgraduate Medical Education, London Deanery, 20 Guilford Street, London WC1N 4DZ;


Trust is an essential part of health care—not only between clinicians and patients but also between staff and management. Research shows us that trust has a beneficial impact on many aspects of working life, including job satisfaction and organisational effectiveness, and both these factors have been shown to affect the quality of patient care. In addition, trust will now be the keystone for any system developed for services to learn from untoward incidents, such as the Reporting and Learning System of the National Patient Safety Agency in the UK. This type of trust is complex and is explored in terms of what staff need from management and the potential conflicts that might be involved in developing trust in a healthcare organisation. This paper looks at the societal and emotional context of health care today and at research from other organisations which shows the factors that must be in place to establish trust. It reviews the attributes of leaders who are seen as trustworthy, and looks at how all this can be used to increase the reporting of and learning from error.

  • organisational trust
  • patient safety
  • leadership

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