Patient safety skills in primary care, a national survey of GP educators by Ahmed et al was published in 2014. This study aimed to determine the views of General Practice Educators regarding the qualities and attributes of a safe General Practitioner (GP) and the perceived trainability of these ‘safety skills’ and to compare selected results with those generated by a previous study of hospital doctors. This graph represents the perceived importance of safety skills:
It is interesting that 6 to 7 out of ten GP educators thought ‘leadership’ qualities to be unimportant or inconsequential. Being a good doctor means more than simply being a good clinician. Every day, doctors provide leadership to their colleagues, and vision for the organisations in which they work and to the profession as a whole.
The definition of leadership has undergone an evolution in recent years. We recognise that some doctors are formal leaders who are accountable for the performance of their team, department or organisation. However some confusion exists between the terms ‘leadership’ and ‘management’.
Hospital doctors often have clearly defined leadership roles as part of clinical teams at the frontline and also as part of clinical directorates at managerial level. This may make leadership in respect to safety a more recognised construct within secondary care.
Important but subtle differences exist between what primary care and secondary care doctors perceive as core safety attributes. As the burden of avoidable harm becomes better understood in primary care, such safety skills training will ensure that current and future GPs possess the necessary competencies to engage in efforts to enhance the safety of healthcare.