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New Zealand's health and disability system already provides high standards of care very cost effectively. Health professionals have extensive knowledge, skills and commitment, and are already delivering excellent patient care.

However, we know patients are still being harmed – sometimes with serious and long-term consequences.

Open for better care was a national patient safety campaign coordinated by the Health Quality & Safety Commission. The campaign focused on reducing harm in the areas of:

  • falls
  • healthcare associated infections (surgical site infections [SSIs])
  • perioperative harm (surgery)
  • medication safety.

Falls was the first area of focus, SSIs the second, reducing perioperative harm the third, medication safety the fourth, and in April 2015 the focus has returned to falls. The final focus was clinical leadership for quality and safety.

The campaign aligned and worked with existing patient safety initiatives, such as the First, Do No Harm campaign in the Northern Region, and other local and national initiatives such as Hand Hygiene New Zealand and Target CLAB Zero.

The campaign was launched on 17 May 2013 by the Associate Minister of Health, Hon Jo Goodhew and concluded on 30 June 2016.

National design, regional implementation

The campaign was coordinated nationally by the Commission and implemented regionally by the health sector. DHBs and other providers adopted the national approach and associated resources in a way that best suited their local environment and situation. A key purpose of the campaign was to promote interventions/actions that are evidence based and proven to reduce harm and improve the quality and safety of patient care. The campaign also reduced duplication of effort and encouraged frameworks that promote a level of standardisation in regional approaches.

Each of the four regions (Northern [with First, Do No Harm], Midland, Central and South Island), established a campaign steering group for their region and worked with the Commission on campaign implementation. That approach was chosen to ensure appropriate design, sustainable change, increased capability and ongoing ownership by the sector.

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