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'A patient safety event like no other'

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Steve Turner tells us about this pioneering patient safety conference that brought together patients, carers, and NHS staff to discuss patient safety in an open forum.


Source: Turn Up The Volume Conference 2015

Billed as ‘a patient safety event like no other’ it certainly lived up to this promise. It was emotive and at times difficult for the audience, but it allowed people to tell their stories within a safe and sympathetic framework. This was exactly what we had set out to do and we plan to conitnue to debate.

The one day conference entitled ‘Turn up the Volume! Curing the Silence Epidemic’ brought together delegates from all corners of the debate, transcending the traditional hierarchies.

”It allowed people to tell their stories within a safe and sympathetic framework”

Amongst the speakers were high profile campaigners, industry whistleblowers, commentators, academics and the Care Quality Commission alongside patients, relatives and carers.

Our aim was to share experiences in promoting the best practice in the delivery of safe care to patients as well as encouraging people to speak out about bad practice and bullying. The event was endorsed by the influential whistleblower support group Patients First, of which I am a member.

As an experienced nurse, healthcare service development leader, and campaigner for transparency myself, I was delighted to see barriers coming down between health and social care by inviting people who don’t normally attend the same meetings or speak on the same platform.

”The conference also set out to examine how work culture can be changed for the better”

The conference also set out to examine how work culture can be changed for the better and to highlight the consequences of not making those changes.

We aimed to tackle issues highlighted in Sir Robert Francis’ Freedom To Speak Up report, which warned that some of the shocking cases highlighted were linked to ‘a culture of fear, blame, defensiveness and scapegoating’.

My long term objective is to ensure that the debate continues beyond this inaugural event, and I believe this is starting to happen as a result of allowing delegates to discover how to make care safer through listening openly to staff concerns, contributing to online resources, local and national communities of practice, sharing and spreading experiences.

”My long term objective is to ensure that the debate continues beyond this inaugural event”

Plus it helps us all to reflect on what works and what needs to change.

We used many methods to collect information before, during and after the event – even graffiti walls.

I’d like to pay tribute to the work of Martin Bromiley and the Clinical Human Factors Group whose aim is to promote safety by flattening hierarchies and encouraging productive dialogue between all involved. This inspired my approach to the event.

Amongst those speaking included Dr Umesh Prabhu, Medical Director of Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Foundation Trust, Chris Day who is Engagement Lead at the Care Quality Commission, Jenny More and Christina Taylor from Your Voice Matters, an organisation dedicated to promoting care with dignity and respect.

Another powerful voice was Joan Pons Laplana a proud nurse and change agent on a ‘mission to turn the healthcare system upside down’ and empower frontline staff and patients to lead together.

Delegates included high profile campaigners such as Dr Kim Holt, Will Powell and Julie Bailey CBE and representatives from NHS England, Healthwatch, NHS Scotland and Monitor.

To everyone who attended, a sincere thank you once again. Please get in contact with me at if you’d like to hear more and/or attend our next conference.


Steve Turner is Managing Director of Care Right Now, a social enterprise


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