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Investigation education

Welcome to our new integrated learning programme for NHS staff, delivered by HSIB experts.

We're pleased to announce our new formal education and learning programme to the NHS that supports professional healthcare safety investigation. It is driven by investigation science which combines the expertise of our highly trained staff. The programme aims to improve local safety investigations and encourages the adoption of a just culture approach within healthcare.

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What is investigation science education?

The HSIB way of investigating incidents in healthcare has evolved since it was established in 2017 and has been shaped by the diverse group of people that work here. The combination of investigators, safety scientists, psychologists, engineers, academics, lawyers and clinicians from a wide range of industries has created a climate where a new science of safety investigation has emerged.

Our programme has been pioneered by Dr Dawn Benson, Acting Head of Investigation Education, Learning and Standards, who worked as a sociologist at the University of Oxford, teaching and researching patient safety and healthcare investigation.

Our acting head of investigation education talks about her own perspective on how investigation science can help protect patients and staff by learning from harm.

Dawn defines the science of investigation, or Investigation Science as 'a finely balanced combination of elements of safety science, investigation process and investigation skills.'

It draws upon fields such as human factors, engineering, law, systems engineering, psychology, accident causation, investigation practice and sociology. Investigation Science is built upon four foundational levels of:

  • safety science
  • investigation processes
  • investigation skills
  • investigation strategy and leadership

We are now pleased to announce that we can share our approach to investigation and we have launched our framework for the HSIB International Awards in Professional Healthcare Safety Investigation.

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"The unique combination of professional experience, skills, and knowledge which our investigators, analysts and advisors bring to investigating incidents in healthcare, encourages the curiosity and mindset to identify the factors which can be mitigated to prevent future harm."

-Dr Dawn Benson, Acting Head of Investigation Education, Learning and Development

Investigation education courses

Our courses will provide opportunities for investigation science training in a variety of depths. These include introductory courses designed for new healthcare safety investigators through to doctoral level, which support the development of investigation science experts.

We've developed the curriculum based on our experience gained through delivering training for our national and maternity investigators, and feedback from NHS organisations and other stakeholders in response to our investigations.

In addition, we will also be developing a range of bespoke and short courses to support our NHS colleagues discover investigation science at all levels. They include a bespoke course for senior NHS leaders and decision makers, to help embed investigation science. We are also launching standalone modules on investigative interviewing and family engagement.

Our professional courses will start to become available to the NHS from January 2022, with an initial focus on the rollout of our Level 3 course which will provide a firm basis to those people wishing to conduct professional investigations within the NHS.

What can you expect from our courses?

Investigation science resources

We are developing standardised tools and methods for a high quality approach to investigating in healthcare.

They include resources for NHS trusts, such as ‘bitesize’ online learning resources to help promote the understanding of methods used in our published investigation reports.

We're currently adapting modern safety science methods and tools for use in healthcare incident investigation. This work will focus on helping the NHS move away from older root cause analysis methods to embrace more modern methods of safety investigation that can account for the complexities in the healthcare system.

We're also mapping and defining standards that draw upon the experience and perspective of internationally recognised experts in healthcare incident investigation. We aim to publish these professional standards by December 2021.

The Investigation Education team

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Dr Dawn Benson, Acting Head of Investigation Education, Learning and Development

Dawn is a sociologist with a specialism in disability studies and inclusion.

Much of her work has been in academia as a researcher and lecturer within healthcare, where she developed the concept of ‘high reliability parenting’ after undertaking research with families of birth injured infants. Dawn has worked at a number of universities in both social and medical sciences. Her most recent work, before joining HSIB, was with the Patient Safety Academy in Oxford lecturing and researching healthcare investigation and human factors.

Dawn was drawn to work at HSIB because the investigations look at the systemic issues that influence the decisions and actions of healthcare professionals, patients, and their families.

She came to academia and developed the concept of Investigation Science after moving from a career as hairdresser. She was driven by her personal experience as the mother of a birth-injured child.

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Deinniol Owens, Deputy Head of Investigation Education Learning and Standards

Deinniol splits his role between being a national investigator and one of the senior investigation science educators at HSIB.

He has presented to a variety of audiences on the work of HSIB and how HSIB adopts safety science in its approach to investigations. He hopes to continue his development and move toward becoming a chartered ergonomist at the earliest opportunity.