Collective Leadership and Safety Cultures (Co-LEAD)

The Co-Lead project is funded by the Health Research Board (HRB Grant Reference No. RL-2015-1588). Programme: Research Leaders Award

Project's duration: 01-Dec-15 to 01-Apr-21.

Project’s Partners: 

  • Prof. Michael West, The King’s Fund/Lancaster University
  • Dr. Mary Day, Ireland East Hospital Group (IEHG)
  • Mr. Tony O’Brien, Director General, Health Services Executive (HSE)

Project’s Collaborators:

  • Prof. Nick McDonald, TCD
  • Dr. Siobhan Corrigan, TCD
  • Dr. John Fitzsimons, TCD
  • Ms. Una Cunningham, MMUH
UCD Co-Lead project's team. L-R: Dr. Aoife deBrún, Ms. Roisin O'Donovan, Ms. Sinead McGinley, Prof. Eilish McAuliffe, Dr. Marie Ward, Ms. Una Cunningham, Ms. Marie O'Shea.

Project’s description:

There is a growing body of evidence of how poor leadership has contributed to system failures that have resulted in a range of errors from misdiagnoses to failure to recognise and respond to patient deterioration. A key challenge for healthcare organisations is to develop and support cultures that ensure the delivery of continuously improving high quality, safe and compassionate healthcare and place strong emphasis on leadership. This programme aims to develop and test the impact on patient safety cultures of collective leadership for healthcare. The research is based on the premise that healthcare is delivered through teamwork and teams should share responsibility and accountability for quality and patient safety. Enabling this to happen requires an understanding of what leadership supports these teams need in order to continuously improve quality and patient safety. The study follows a systems approach, recognising healthcare as a complex system and identifying key points and levels of intervention as essential to enabling a collective leadership approach to create a change in culture. The recently established hospital groups with their emphasis on creating networks of hospitals, delivering integrated safe care provide a receptive environment to test this model. The programme of work will study the development of leaders' networks within such a recently formed hospital group. In addition it will co-design collective leadership curriculum based on healthcare teams' leadership needs. It will then implement and test the impact of this curriculum on leadership competencies, staff engagement and safety cultures. This approach to conducting research in practice will ensure rapid implementation and scale up of the intervention should it prove effective in developing leaders that support safety cultures. The research will contribute to the growing literature on collective leadership through the development of a model that explains the relationship between collective leadership and patient safety cultures.