Skip to main content

Welsh Ergonomics and Safer Patients Alliance (WESPA)

We are an interdisciplinary group of researchers and clinicians undertaking research and service evaluation to enable innovation and implementation of practices to improve patient safety in healthcare.

The Wales Ergonomics and Safer Patients Alliance (WESPA) was formed in response to supporting the National Health Service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

WESPA comprises early career and senior researchers from across Cardiff University (Business, Engineering, Mathematics, Medicine) with expertise in operations management, human factors and resilience engineering. We work closely with NHS professionals (clinicians, managers and executives) to model how the design of health services impact on staff and patient outcomes.


Our primary aim is to carry out applied research driven by clinical need by drawing upon research expertise from across Cardiff University to enable innovation and implementation of practices to improve patient safety in the NHS, by:

  • Partnering with NHS organisations, and working directly with NHS staff, to identify improvement priorities, we:
    • embed researchers-in-residence to analyse patient safety data and observe in clinical settings;
    • build capability to develop data infrastructures that promote timely organisational learning to inform service design, planning and management; and,
    • evaluate models of service delivery to identify where and how the service can be designed / redesigned to improve staff and patient outcomes.
  • Leading engagement activities with key stakeholders – healthcare professionals, managers, executives, patients, services users and the public – to gain timely feedback on our research findings.
  • Facilitating co-production activities in the NHS to maximise understanding of human factors influencing staff and patient outcomes.
  • Engaging with the third sector and other organisations with the purpose of influencing policy and achieving impact in the NHS.


Our research agenda currently focuses on, the:

  • Development and testing of methodological approaches to apply human factors theory, principles and tools in the NHS to understand and learn from complex socio-technical systems;
  • Identification of opportunities for health systems improvement from analysis of routine patient safety data; and,
  • Understanding complex systems by modelling and quantifying variability using the Functional Resonance Analysis Method (FRAM).


Functional Resonance Analysis Method projects

  • Identifying safety priorities to improve the identification of sepsis in primary care (Anderson N et al., EPIC BSc student, 2018-2019; funded by the Royal college of Physicians Wolfson Fellowship)
  • Evaluation of CAV 24/7 [a novel telephone triage system] to aid infection prevention and control practices during the COVID pandemic (Anderson N, Medical student, Neelakantapuram A, MBA student, Huang E, Maths MSc student, et al., 2020-2021)
  • Identifying human factors to enhance infection prevention and control practices during post-pandemic recovery in an Emergency Department using the Functional Resonance Analysis Method (David T, EPIC BSc student, 2021-2022; funded by the Royal College of Physicians Wolfson Fellowship)
  • Using FRAM to eliminate the three enemies of Lean (Muda, Muri and Mura) to improve quality and safety in an Emergency Department during the COVID-19 pandemic (Kumar M et al., 2020-)

Lean / Six Sigma/ Operations Improvement projects

  • Understanding human factors underpinning medication errors in the neonatal unit and applying Lean Six Sigma DMAIC methodology to propose improvement solutions (Kumar et al., 2019–2020)
  • Integrating Lean Six Sigma approach with FRAM to understand the interrelationship between waste (Muda), variation (Mura), and overburden (Muri) in the Emergency Department and its impact on safer care provision in the dynamic and complex healthcare setting (Kumar M et al., 2021-).

Safety data analytics projects

  • Characteristics of safety incidents and resident pathogens and active failures during the COVID-19 pandemic (Paranjape A et al.,. 2021 funded by Wellcome Trust summer internship)
  • Development and testing of tools to promote the identification of human factors in healthcare (Kumar, Carson-Stevens, Krishnan et al., 2021–; funded by ESRC DTP doctoral fellowship)
  • Harnessing Data Analytics to Maximise NHS Learning from Patient Safety Incident Reports (Carson-Stevens A, Krishnan K et al., 2018-2020; funded by The Health Foundation)

Next steps


Research that matters

Our research makes a difference to people’s lives as we work across disciplines to tackle major challenges facing society, the economy and our environment.


Postgraduate research

Our research degrees give the opportunity to investigate a specific topic in depth among field-leading researchers.


Our research impact

Our research case studies highlight some of the areas where we deliver positive research impact.