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J R Soc Med. 2006 February; 99(2): 53–54.
PMCID: PMC1360481

Walking the walk

Phil Hadridge suggested in his article (December 2005 JRSM1) that, if the culture of patient safety is to improve in the health service, we should take a leaf out of the oil industry where safety since the Piper Alpha Disaster has been paramount. He suggests leaders in the health service should `walk the walk' like in the oil industry and check fire procedures and exits at each meeting.

He is missing the point by a mile. He is walking the wrong walk, and I am not surprised that he has met with incredulity when he has suggested it.

Fire is a fundamental issue in the oil industry. Fire is the safety issue in the oil industry.

He is, however, quite right to ask what is our Piper Alpha? MRSA perhaps? Leadership needs to walk the right walk if they are to improve patient safety. In a culture where the patient comes first, worrying about your own skin in a fire comes across as counter intuitive when most of the health professionals would be looking at saving their patients first before running for the fire exit.


1. Hadridge P. Leading safely: `ridiculous' lessons from the oil and other industries. J R Soc Med 2005;98: 539-41 [PMC free article] [PubMed]

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