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HRB and HSE announce joint funding for a new Patient Safety Research Network

The five-year, €1.25M investment will establish the Evidence-based QUality Improvement and Patient Safety (EQUIPS) research network.

EQUIPS will bring together stakeholder groups, researchers and knowledge users to advance Quality and Patient Safety (QPS) research and create a better understanding among patients and the public about the value and impact of QPS research.

The multidisciplinary Network will be led by Professor Samuel Cromie, Trinity College Dublin (TCD), with Dr Orla Healy, National Clinical Director of Quality and Patient Safety, Health Service Executive (HSE) as the Lead Knowledge User on the award.

Dr Mairead O’Driscoll, Chief Executive of the Health Research Board (HRB) announced the award noting,  

“The EQUIPS project builds on a 10-year collaboration between the HRB and HSE to advance quality and patient safety research through the Research Collaboration in Quality and Patient Safety (RCQPS).  

“Establishing the network aligns with many shared objectives that focus on improving outcomes for patients.

“The network will provide a forum to debate and determine research priorities, support the development of a critical mass of research activity, and position Ireland to engage internationally to ensure we are at the forefront of best international practice when it comes to patient safety research and its application into practice.”

Professor Samuel Cromie, TCD, said

"EQUIPS is a very exciting opportunity to create a national collaboration to draw together expertise in key research clusters and build the capability and capacity for evidence-based improvements in quality and safety. The team includes 22 co-applicants and 28 collaborators with experience in QPS research spanning a range of disciplinary backgrounds including Health Systems, Implementation Science, Medical Education, Psychology, Human Factors and Behavioural Science.”

Dr Orla Healy, National Clinical Director, Quality and Patient Safety, HSE, said  

“Translating our practical experience in quality and patient safety into evidence based, timely research outcomes is essential in a dynamic and evolving healthcare organisation.   

“At a time when we are focused on integrating services and changing how we structure and deliver healthcare, we have a unique opportunity to create a platform that enables us to capture tacit knowledge in essential fields like patient safety, human factors and public health. In doing so, there is significant potential for the EQUIPS project to positively impact service delivery for people using healthcare.”  

EQUIPS will have three strands.  

  • The Enable strand will put all the pieces in place to build a thriving research community – events, information sources, capacity and capability building.  
  • The Understanding and Informing strand will draw on this community, set priorities and strategies for QPS research, identify barriers and enablers and evaluate the network itself to apply the quality improvement cycle to it.  
  • The Focussing strand will consist of clusters to start working on priority QPS research topics, set the agenda for them, put consortia together and start pursuing funding. Two initial clusters will focus on System and Process Design and Implementation and Evaluation.

The network incorporates researchers and research groups/centres from seven Universities in disciplines that include Quality Improvement, Patient Safety Science, Implementation Science, Health Psychology, Human Factors, Health Economics, Safety Culture, Systems Science and Public Health.  

The project will run from now until November 2028 and is funded equally by the HRB and HSE with an investment of €625,000 each.