COVID-19 and High Reliability Organisations

High Reliability Organisations (HROs) operate in complex, high-risk environments where accidents might be expected to occur frequently, but they actually have fewer than might be expected. However, recent thinking suggests that what defines a HRO is not safety or reliability performance, but how it thinks and acts. The key is that HROs anticipate the unexpected AND contain the unexpected when it occurs. The current COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of the best practices of the HRO approach. This article outlines the five key characteristics of HROs in order to help organisations respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and other future unexpected events.

Leadership: Delivering the impossible

The UK NHS (National Health Service), like healthcare in other countries, is a complex system. It is one of the largest employers in the world - some NHS Trusts employ around 20,000 staff and have a turnover of more than £1 billion. The NHS is not a single organisation - there are many parts that make up the NHS. However, these components do not operate as separate entities, they are interconnected and work together as a system. This creates challenges for those that lead these organisations. A recent report on leadership by The King's Fund: "Leadership in today's NHS: Delivering the impossible" questions whether senior leadership roles in the NHS are still "do-able".

Keep it simple

Discusses the relationship between complexity and system failures. The author of The Nimrod Review, The Hon. Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, states that simplicity is your friend and complexity is your enemy.

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