Martin Bromiley, OBE has been awarded an honorary degree by Cranfield University at this year’s graduation celebrations. He is an airline captain and founder and Chair of Clinical Human Factors Group (CHFG), a charity which he established in 2007.

He joined the other honorary graduates from the world of business and more than 1,500 postgraduate students, representing 100 different countries, at the ceremonies held over two days.

Graham Braithwaite, Director of Transport Systems at Cranfield, said: "Martin has had a profound impact on healthcare through his dedication to translating insight in safety, human factors and investigation in aviation to healthcare. Martin experienced personal tragedy when his late wife, Elaine, died as a result of medical error. Where many of us would have been broken by such a thing, Martin found the strength to provide inspirational and courageous leadership to support colleagues at all levels in healthcare to reduce errors and to promote a safety culture."

In 2005, Martin’s late wife, Elaine, died during a hospital procedure. A subsequent independent review and Inquest established her death was the direct result of human factors and failings in non-technical skills, created by systemic failings in the healthcare system.

Martin started to research the culture in healthcare around safety and human factors and recognised that although there were pockets of excellence, the NHS was culturally a long way behind most other high-risk industries.

Martin founded the CHFG charity in 2007 with academics, clinicians, leaders and policy makers. He has used his background in aviation to bring som eof the best aviation accident investigation techniques to healthcare, along with a greater understanding of the science of human factors.

Martin has worked with people such as the late Professor Helen Muir and others connected to Cranfield to understand these issues. He helped persuade HM Government to set up the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch, modelled on the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB). As a result, he has also bought lessons learnt in healthcare back into aviation, including lecturing on courses to new transport accident investigators at the University.

After receiving his honorary degree, he said: “I am deeply humbled to receive this award. While it comes to me personally, it’s really in recognition of the professionalism, expertise and passion of many of those who’ve worked to improve investigation in aviation, many of whom are connected with Cranfield. It is on the shoulders of these pioneers that I’ve been able to help make a small difference to the safety of healthcare, and hopefully one day bring these lessons back to other safety-critical industries.”

Martin continues his voluntary work to bring a just culture, system thinking and human factors to healthcare, where such terms are now much more commonplace. In 2016, Martin received an OBE in recognition of his work.

Martin Bromiley
Martin Bromiley, OBE has been awarded an honorary degree by Cranfield University