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Organisational readiness: exploring the preconditions for success in organisation-wide patient safety improvement programmes
  1. Susan Burnett,
  2. Jonathan Benn,
  3. Anna Pinto,
  4. Anam Parand,
  5. Sandra Iskander,
  6. Charles Vincent
  1. Imperial College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Susan Burnett, Researcher, Centre for Patient Safety and Service Quality, Department of Surgery, Division of Surgery and Cancer, Faculty of Medicine, Room 508, Medical School Building, St Mary's Campus, Norfolk Place, London W2 1PG, UK; s.burnett{at}


Background Patient safety has been high on the agenda for more than a decade. Despite many national initiatives aimed at improving patient safety, the challenge remains to find coherent and sustainable organisation-wide safety-improvement programmes. In the UK, the Safer Patients' Initiative (SPI) was established to address this challenge. Important in the success of such an endeavour is understanding ‘readiness’ at the organisational level, identifying the preconditions for success in this type of programme. This article reports on a case study of the four NHS organisations participating in the first phase of SPI, examining the perceptions of organisational readiness and the relationship of these factors with impact by those actively involved in the initiative.

Materials and methods A mixed-methods design was used, involving a survey and semistructured interviews with senior executive leads, the principal SPI programme coordinator and the four operational leads in each of the SPI clinical work areas in all four organisations taking part in the first phase of SPI.

Conclusions This preliminary work would suggest that prior to the start of organisation-wide quality- and safety-improvement programmes, organisations would benefit from an assessment of readiness with time spent in the preparation of the organisational infrastructure, processes and culture. Furthermore, a better understanding of the preconditions that mark an organisation as ready for improvement work would allow policymakers to set realistic expectations about the outcomes of safety campaigns.

  • Organisation
  • collaborative programme
  • organisational readiness
  • quality improvement
  • safety programme

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  • Funding The Health Foundation (funder); The National Institute for Health Research (funder).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.