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Geography no barrier to great teamwork

You don’t have to be in the same town to be part of a great team. There is no greater proof of this than the South Island Safety 1st system administrator (sys admin) team, which is responsible for maintaining and improving our regional electronic risk  management system (incidents, feedback, risk register), Safety 1st.

This unique, high-functioning, multidisciplinary and inter-district team has five members – one from each South Island DHB. Each member represents their local DHB (some have additional roles in their DHB) but together they work regionally – and they all agree regional comes first.

“It’s quite a new approach but it’s a simple concept to grasp really; it just takes a change in mindset,” says Martin Hucklesby, Nelson Marlborough DHB representative. “It’s easy to get bogged down in local issues – we just keep reminding ourselves that it’s a regional system and we are a regional team.”

The other four sys admins who make up the South Island team are: Vicki Piner (West Coast DHB), Penny Dewar (South Canterbury DHB), Ian Densie (Southern DHB) and Jamie Clarke (Canterbury DHB).

Despite the geographical distance, this team is tight. They talk every day and support each other in many different ways – whether it’s sharing a problem, venting frustrations or providing a new perspective. They even cover leave for each other despite having different employers.   

“We are all in the same boat so we share our problems. There’s a lot of trust within the group and mutual support,” says Martin. Jamie agrees, “This is the best team I’ve worked with; we all clicked straight away and we are all willing to help each other.”

In this diverse yet close-knit team, everyone brings something different to the table. Vicki explains, “We are five brains working on one system, which means five times more potential and five times the number of good ideas.” And yet, Ian points out, “We are becoming more alike than different in our thinking.”

The South Island sys admin team is currently working on the outcomes of the recent Safety 1st Health Check, a six month performance review of the system. This involves local and regional consultation and agreement; requiring compromise, understanding and respect for others.

“We are all very aware that we are part of something much bigger. We have to consider how our decisions affect others,” says Penny. Vicki explains why, “A small local change to the system can have a huge impact across the region. If we lose the connection we have with each other it would have a snowball effect – it wouldn’t just compromise the effectiveness of the group, it would compromise the integrity of the whole system.”

To keep their connection, the sys admins teleconference weekly and email daily, but face to face gets the best results. Penny says, “Because most of us have split roles, being able to spend two full days wearing just one of our hats means we get results quicker.” Ian agrees, “Getting together helps us to refocus and support each other, and we get to have some healthy, robust debate.”


Safety1st Survey

19 Aug 2015

From Monday 17th August all South Island DHB staff are invited to complete a brief survey about the Safety1st e-risk management system to help capture honest, valuable feedback on their experience of using the application to date. The focus is on the incident reporting (including staff incidents) at this stage.

The survey has been designed to highlight where the system is working well, areas and opportunities for improvement and simple local and regional level changes that could help optimise Safety1st for all users.

The online survey should take approximately five minutes to complete, and is open for two weeks (deadline 28th August). During that time all staff who have used Safety1st are being urged to share their thoughts and experiences of the system.

The Safety1st Control Group wants to hear from everybody who has used Safety1st as they need your feedback to help take use of the system to the next level. 

The Safety1st Control Group is a work stream of the Quality and Safety group within the South Island Alliance, commissioned to undertake a six month health check of Safety1st. This survey is the first step within this process and will inform the next application upgrade.

To enter the survey click on one of the following links:

All Submitters (staff members who log an incident) click here:

All File Managers (staff members who manage the incident once it has been logged) click here:


  • Safety1st is an integrated online risk and incident management application that was configured for all South Island DHBs to support better patient safety outcomes and reduce risk for patients, staff and visitors across the region.
  • The application enables collection and reporting on data at a local and regional level. It has the capability to develop incident reports electronically that are comprehensive and meaningful, and help support a safety culture and service improvement across the wider South Island.
  • The application is now operational within all South Island DHBs.