I am a social psychologist specialising in how organisations achieve high levels of safety, reliability and resilience. My professional career spans research, policy, regulation and practice in a variety of safety-critical and high-risk industries. I regularly advise organisations and policymakers on challenging safety, risk and improvement issues.
Previously I have held posts including Special Advisor at the NHS National Patient Safety Agency, Health Foundation Improvement Science Fellow and Senior Research Fellow at Imperial College London and Senior Research Fellow in Improvement Science at University of Leicester medical school.
I have also worked in the regulatory risk group of an investment bank, held ESRC fellowships at the London School of Economics, visiting posts at Stanford University and University of California San Francisco and remain a Research Associate at the LSE Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation. I also serve on the Editorial Board of Safety Science.
Senior Research Fellow
Risk, safety and resilience in complex systems
My research is concerned with how organisations achieve high levels of safety, reliability and resilience. I am committed to delivering innovative interdisciplinary research with real world impact. My work spans all complex high-consequence industries but has primarily focused on aviation and healthcare.
My programme of research is particularly concerned with three interrelated issues:
- how safety improvements are initiated, interpreted, organised and measured
- how organisations respond to disruptions, manage risk, investigate incidents and learn from error
- how organisational and regulatory systems can be designed to support innovation, adaptation and improvement.
My recent book, Close Calls, examines the work of airline flight safety investigators and the cognitive processes and sensemaking strategies that are used to analyse 'near-miss' incidents and identify and address the early signs of emerging risks.
My research has directly led to the establishment of the first national independent safety investigation body for healthcare. Following my initial proposal, in 2014 I co-authored the paper, "Learning from Failure: the need for independent safety investigation in healthcare", with Prof Charles Vincent that set out the case for an independent patient safety investigation agency. That paper featured in the national press and helped prompt the Public Administration Select Committee inquiry into NHS safety investigation that recommended an independent patient safety investigator be established. This recommendation was accepted by the Government and led to the creation of the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch. I was appointed as Specialist Advisor to the Select Committee inquiry and was a member of the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch Expert Advisory Group.
I have been awarded the Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica lecture prize (2014), British Psychological Society Qualitative Methods in Psychology early career award (2010-11), and British Psychological Society Division of Occupational Psychology student award (1st Prize 2003-4) for my research. I was also part of the team that won 3rd prize in the inaugural AIHI-RHCN International Prize in Resilience Health Care, with Cathy Winter and Tim Draycott (2016).
My work has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the Health Foundation and the Wellcome Trust.
- Risk and Safety Research Group (Prof. Charles Vincent) Research Group
Close Calls: Managing Risk and Resilience in Airline Flight Safety
Macrae C., (2014)
Learning from failure: the need for independent safety investigation in healthcare.
Macrae C. and Vincent C., (2014), J R Soc Med, 107, 439 - 443
Inquiries alone will not tackle failures of care
Macrae C., (2013), The Health service journal
Regulating Resilience? Regulatory Work in High-Risk Arenas
Macrae C., (2010), Anticipating Risks and Organising Risk Regulation
Making risks visible: Identifying and interpreting threats to airline flight safety
Macrae C., (2009), Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 82, 273 - 293
A New National Safety Investigator for Healthcare: The Road Ahead
Macrae C. and Vincent C., (2017), Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine
Errors and near misses: what health care could learn from aviation
Macrae C., (2016), AHRQ PSNet
Delivering high reliability in maternity care: in situ simulation as a source of organisational resilience
Macrae C. and Draycott T., (2016), Safety Science
Remembering to learn: the overlooked role of remembrance in safety improvement
Macrae C., (2016), BMJ Quality and Safety
The problem with incident reporting.
Macrae C., (2016), BMJ Qual Saf, 25, 71 - 75