Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), provider of mental health, substance misuse and learning disability services across the two counties, has deployed Datix patient safety software to support the newly formed Foundation Trust. This follows the merger of Norfolk and Suffolk's separate mental health trusts in January 2012. 

With both former trusts as users of Datix Incidents for many years, NSFT purchased Datix Risk Register in March 2013 to manage, mitigate and minimise risk effectively across the larger, more complex organisation. NSFT's most recent investment in Datix has already improved communication, promoted proactive decision-making around patient safety and elevated the role of risk management in support of the Trust's four-year Service Strategy.

Prior to the formation of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, the separate Norfolk and Suffolk mental healthcare organisations had long histories of using Datix and, by the time of the merger, had already switched to the latest web-based software to achieve increased and consistent levels of incident reporting. NSFT decided to invest further in Datix expanding its infrastructure to manage risk effectively and help make decisions about patient safety in a more proactive way. 

Neil Paull, Deputy Head of Risk and Security Management at NSFT, said: "Independently, both Norfolk and Suffolk mental health partnerships had very positive experiences of using Datix. The software is easy to use and staff like seeing the immediate results of entering an incident and being involved in the final outcomes. With this track record, it made sense to build on the successful foundations already laid down by Datix and implement Datix Risk Register to manage and minimise risk across the Trust. We were confident that stepping up our investment in Datix would help us achieve our goal to be recognised as a national leader in mental healthcare through the provision and co-ordination of high quality, excellent and cost-effective services in a totally secure and safe environment."

Prior to purchasing Datix Risk Register software in March 2013, staff manually distributed risk information across the organisation using spreadsheets. This made document version control difficult and information could be out of date. The new solution means that all risks are recorded and managed centrally for the newly created NSFT. 

Datix Risk Register provides NSFT with a valuable audit trail that tracks the management and mitigation of risks from end to end. The Trust knows exactly what risks it faces and who is accountable for managing each risk. With support from the Trust board, the system has been adopted widely at all levels and has significantly elevated the awareness of risk and the role of risk management. 

The advanced reporting capabilities provided by Datix enable NSFT to identify Serious Untoward Incidents on a daily basis. For example, should a patient act aggressively towards a member of staff, this is triggered as a potential risk to the organisation. If this type of incident recurs, the Trust has the appropriate evidence to call the police and take the matter forward without delay. 

The Datix Dashboard module is particularly valued by the Trust's governance team, which uses the dynamic reporting environment to comply with increased industry regulation and demonstrate the Trust's performance against internal Service Level Agreements (SLAs) as well as the standards set by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The latest investment in Datix has improved communication in terms of incident and risk management and has allowed the sharing of best practice across the Trust. The risk management team is located in both Norfolk and Suffolk but can log onto Datix from both offices and quickly focus on the priority issues of the day. 

Jonathan Hazan, Chief Executive of Datix, said, "Mental health services are a vital part of the NHS and face many risks that are either not present or occur with less frequency or severity in general healthcare settings. Our integrated web-based technology gives organisations like Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust a powerful tool to help improve patient safety. Datix incident and risk reporting can be used to identify risks swiftly, which allows NSFT to mitigate and minimise them. By providing the evidence a trust needs to take informed decisions, our software can help to improve patient safety while meeting tough financial and corporate objectives."