This paper addresses information raised as part of a Delphi study of NHS hospital operating theatres in England. The aim of the first Delphi study round was to establish how the World Health Organisation’s Surgical Safety Checklist (SSC) is currently being used in the peri-operative setting as part of a strategy to reduce surgical ‘never events’. It used a combination of closed and open-ended questions that solicited specific information about current practice and research literature, that generated ideas and allowed participants freedom in their responses. The study asked theatre managers, matrons and clinical educators that work in operating theatres and deliver the surgical safety checklist daily, and who are therefore considered to be theatre safety experts. Participants were from the seven regions identified by NHS England.
The study revealed that the majority of trusts don’t receive formal training on how to deliver the SSC, checklist champions are not always identified, feedback following a ‘never event’ is not usually given and that the debrief is the most common step missed. While the intention of the study was not to establish whether the lack of training, cyclical learning and missing steps has led to the increased presence of never events, it has facilitated a broader engagement in the literature, as well highlighting some possible reasons why compliance has not yet been universally achieved. Furthermore, the Delphi study is intended to be an exploratory approach that will inform a more in-depth doctoral research study aimed at improving patient safety in the operating theatre and informing policy making and quality improvement.