Leicester academic works with British Police helicopter support unit as part of project to improve patient safety

This year the Director of the Civil Safety and Security Unit within the School of Business, Dr Simon Bennett, has been working with the National Police Air Service (NPAS), the British Police service's helicopter support unit.

Formed on October 1st, 2012, NPAS uses small, agile EC135 helicopters to provide various services, including command-and-control and covert surveillance, to the 43 police forces of England and Wales.

During his research, Dr Bennett interviewed pilots, Tactical Flight Officers (airborne police officers), Base Commanders and Flight Dispatchers accommodated in the NPAS National HQ. He also flew with NPAS on operational sorties.

Dr Bennett commented: "It has been a privilege to observe NPAS crews at work. These are fast-paced, high-pressure sorties that make huge demands of pilots and Tactical Flight Officers. I witnessed flight-deck teamwork and leadership of the highest quality … some of the best I have seen in the eighteen years I have spent working with aviators".

Dr Bennett's research will inform the patient-safety work he is doing with the University of Leicester School of Medicine's Professor Elizabeth Anderson. Professor Anderson and Dr Bennett recently secured a £50,000 Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund grant. They are hopeful of securing further monies. Each year the NHS sees around 12,000 ‘avoidable deaths’, many the result of medical error.