Exploring patient safety incident investigation capability and capacity in healthcare.

   Department of Population Health Sciences

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  Dr Farhad Peerally  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Project Description:


Patient safety incidents are often caused by multi-faceted factors originating across the whole ecology of healthcare and are intrinsic to its properties as a complex adaptive system. Identifying the contributory factors to patient safety incidents requires investments in skills and resources to conduct thorough investigations. Investigative capability and capacity within healthcare organizations are thus crucial in achieving effective incident management and improving patient safety. Yet an in-depth understanding of what constitutes “strong” investigative capability and capacity in healthcare settings is currently lacking.

Proposed project

This PhD studentship thus aims to research organizational responses following incident investigations in healthcare, with a focus on capability and capacity at an organizational and sector-wide level. The PhD studentship will involve the use of mixed methods to develop insights into the current resources deployed at organizational level to conduct patient safety incident investigations in the NHS, explore the factors influencing strong investigative capability and capacity in healthcare, and relevant lessons that can be learnt for healthcare from practices in other safety-critical industries, with the aim of developing a framework for strong investigative capability and capacity adapted to the specifics of healthcare.

This project is particularly timely given the current implementation of a new patient safety incident response framework in the NHS to assist healthcare organisations to develop appropriate system structures and shared cultural values to respond to patient safety incidents.

Impact of this project

The outcomes of this PhD project are anticipated to have significant implications for policy, practice and research. The findings are expected to support the development of evidence-based policies to improve healthcare responses following patient safety incidents and inform national and international policies related to investigative resource allocation and the development of investigation expertise.

This PhD studentship has the potential to provide a scaffold for future research in incident investigations, with transferrable findings across industries. The findings are expected to generate theoretical and practical insights into the practice of incident investigation as a social activity influenced by multiple contextual factors, which will further inform future cross-disciplinary research efforts on the topic.


Project enquiries Farhad Peerally [Email Address Removed]

Application enquiries [Email Address Removed]

To apply please refer to our web page


Start date 23 September 2024

Medicine (26) Nursing & Health (27)

Funding Notes

This is a 50% college funded studentship, and 50% NIHR PSRC
It will be a 3.5 year studentship providing UK fees and standard UKRI stipend of £18,662 per year
RTSG £750 per annum for 3 years
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