September 17, 2020

World Patient Safety Day

Today, the World Health Organisation is commemorating World Patient Safety Day. The COVID-19 pandemic has unveiled the huge challenges and risks health workers are facing globally, and that is why the World Patient Safety Day 2020 theme is ‘Health Worker Safety: A Priority for Patient Safety’, with the official slogan “Safe health workers, Safe patients”.

Our High Reliability Organisation (HRO) transformation puts patient safety at the centre of everything we do. To help increase patient safety, as well as to work on developing and implementing HRO quality and safety projects, the ‘HRO Champions Network’ was formed a year ago.

The group is co-chaired by Paula Kuder, Nurse Unit Manager, Renal Services, and Nicholas Romeo, Head Respiratory Scientist, and has ten staff members from various campuses and departments, from finance to physiotherapy. Jeff Vasquez, Access Manager from Broadmeadows Hospital, says the team shares the passion for patient safety, but also patient experience.

“The network is about staff leading and creating projects, and taking the HRO principles back to their departments. Some of the projects we are working on are new ways of delivering staff education and streamlining the processes, in line with COVID-19 requirements. Also, we are working on ideas that were planned for our Hack Weekend, and numerous operation projects on how we can work more efficiently. The group is also supporting the Staying Well initiative,” Paula explained.

Prior to these system-wide initiatives, the group feels quality was seen as a individual practitioner and ward-based system improvement, while HRO looks at the whole system and how to join initiatives and processes to improve processes and quality for all.

“This way of looking at services and how we improve has a direct effect on patient safety,” added Molly Galea, Allied Health Education lead.

The members have shared different interpretations of what ‘Safe health worker, Safe patient’ means to them.

For Nicholas, keeping staff in respiratory departments safe is essential as the team understands that staying healthy and minimising risks is essential for being able to help patients.  Jay Lakmal, Finance Manager and also a member of the committee gave a financial perspective:

“When staff feel safe, we can see how it reflects in our activity. There are less personal leave rates and this improves our overall activities, and it is one of the contributing factors to our operational efficiency,” he explained.

Molly touched on the recent ‘Conversations on Mental Wellness’ week, adding that she feels proud of how the organisation has responded to the need for staff emotional safety.

“As an organisation, we are going through a huge change and disruption, as well as uncertainty, that is why it is important that all of us, all colleagues, look after each other’s emotional wellbeing”.

Steve Ferguson, Physiotherapist, added that when a patient and the health worker feel safe, there is facilitation of communication and collaboration between them, and also between the health worker and the colleagues.

“The concept of safe health worker is key for facilitating those conversations,” he added.

The HRO Champions Network welcomes new members, as well as new HRO projects. To get in touch, please email


HRO Champions Meeting



Featured image: Nicholas Romeo, Kirstin Tirant (back) and Paula Kuder (front).