Tairawhiti first to sign up for national patient safety campaign

17 May 2013

Tairawhiti District Health Board is the first DHB in New Zealand to pledge commitment to a national patient safety campaign aimed at saving lives and reducing harm, launched today by Associate Minister of Health Jo Goodhew.

When TDH Board chair David Scott and chief executive Jim Green signed the pledge certificate at a staff morning tea in Gisborne Hospital’s cafeteria, the DHB became the first in the country to sign up for the Open for better care campaign.

“It is a privilege to be the first DHB in New Zealand to sign this significant pledge  - a long-term promise of patient safety,”  said Mr Scott.

The campaign is coordinated nationally by the Health Quality & Safety Commission, and implemented regionally by district health boards (DHBs) and other health providers. It will run until mid-2015 and focuses on four key areas where evidence shows it is possible to reduce patient harm – falls, surgery (perioperative harm), healthcare associated infections and medication safety.

Each topic will be rolled out sequentially, with falls the first area of focus.

Mr Scott says  New Zealand’s health and disability system already provides high standards of care very cost effectively.

“Health professionals have extensive knowledge, skills and commitment, and are already delivering excellent patient care.”

Throughout the country, DHBs have in place interventions that have made a real difference to patient safety – such as programmes to reduce harm from falls, improve hand hygiene and reduce harm to surgical patients.

Two other initiatives are Releasing Time to Care, which frees up nurses’ time for direct patient care, and The Productive Operating Theatre, a quality improvement programme for operating theatres.

“However, we know patients are still being harmed,” says Mr Scott, “sometimes with serious and long-term consequences. Furthermore, some patients are not receiving the care they need, while others are receiving treatments – including medications – that are of no value to them.

Open for better care is about health care workers being open to acknowledging mistakes and learning from them, open to working closely with patients and families, and open to change, improvement and innovation.

Mr Green says that in Tairawhiti, “the best way our DHB can focus on improving outcomes for patients is through championing the national patient safety campaign. By signing this pledge we again commit our energy and resources to improving care while reducing harm”.

And TDH’s team leader of pharmacy, Martin Kennedy says: “At TDH we are all about improving people wellbeing. It is critical we do this without causing harm in the process through error or unintended outcomes. With medication we have an absolute commitment to get it right every time. In our prescribing, our dispensing and our administration, we work hard to ensure the patient gets exactly what they need when they need it. Nothing less is good enough.”



For more information:

Kathy McVey, TDH Communications Manager

06 869-0500 ext 8115   or   021 223-7094



  • More information about the campaign is available at: www.open.hqsc.govt.nz
  • The need to make changes to reduce patient harm is compelling.
  • In the two years from 2010 to 2012, 170 people fell while in public hospital care and broke their hip. It is estimated that 22 people of these people died because of the fall.
  • Up to 10 percent of people admitted to hospital acquire an infection, and many of these are likely to remain in hospital longer and have a longer recovery time.
  • Medication errors made up 5 percent of serious harm reported by DHBs in 2011/12.
  • Between 2005 and 2010, ACC accepted a total of 205 claims for retained instruments or wrong site surgery.
  • Evidence shows that changing behaviours or processes will lead to reduced patient harm and we need these interventions to be used correctly and consistently across the health sector.
  • Recommended changes in practice will be shared through the campaign website, events, learning sessions, presentations from clinical experts, ‘how to’ guides, videos and other resources.
  • DHB regions will implement the interventions that support and improve their existing quality and safety programmes.

 TDH Board chair David Scott and chief executive Jim Green. PHOTO courtesy The Gisborne Herald