Bernadette Harrison

Adjunct Senior Lecturer
RN RM, MPH GradCertMedEd

Bernie is a registered nurse and midwife. She has 31 years experience in the health care system in both the UK and Australia, and has practised as a midwife in both countries. Bernie is currently the Director of Clinical Leadership Development and Clinical Practice Improvement training at the NSW Clinical Excellence Commission. She took a research position in patient safety in 1988 following the Chelmsford enquiry and then went on to project manage and co-author the Quality in Australia Health Care study which was the seminal Australian patient injury study published in the MJA in 1995. Following this study she became a passionate advocate for multi disciplinary and interdisciplinary team work to improve the quality and safety of care for patients. To that end she applied and was awarded a Fulbright scholarship in 2001 to study health care clinical practice improvement and collaborative improvement methods in the USA.

She sees health reform as inevitable and essential with the demands of an aging population and sees extending the roles of nurses and midwives in Australia, in line with trends in the UK and USA, as critical in that reform process.

Areas of expertise

Bernie has run training programs in health care improvement for the last 10 years, both nationally and internationally. She has expertise in clinical leadership development, and in the area of transfusion medicine and the appropriate use of red cells in haemodynamically stable patients with normal bone marrow. She leads the Blood Watch Program for the Clinical Excellence Commission.

Areas of research and teaching supervision

Bernie is currently a Fellow at the Australian Institute of Health Innovation where she is undertaking a PhD in micro-system change and the improvement of red cell usage in cardiac surgery across NSW.

She runs workshops in health care improvement in both university and work based training environments.

She is a member of faculty for the Master of Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Sydney

She provides lectures to nurses at a master's level in clinical quality and safety

Recent Publications

Taitz J, Wyeth B, Lennon R, Torre PD, Yen T, Harrison B & Cattell M (2006). Effect of the introduction of a lumbar puncture and teaching manikin on junior staff documentation and performance of paediatric lumbar punctures. Quality and Safety in Health Care. October; 15(5): 325–328.

Wilson RM & Harrison BT (2002). Principles of Clinical Practice Improvement – an overview. Int Med J; 32: 460-464.

Wilson RM, Runciman WB, Gibberd RW, Harrison BT, Newby L & Hamilton JD (1995). The Quality in Australian Health Care Study. Med J Australia;163,9:458-471

Wilson RM, Harrison BT, Gibberd RW & Hamilton JD (1999). An analysis of the causes of adverse events from the Quality in Australian Health Care Study. Med J Aust May.

Wilson RM & Harrison BT(1997). Are we committed to improving the quality of health care? Med J Aust; 166.

Published reports as principle author

Elective Surgical Blood Usage in NSW Report: an analysis of the elective surgical blood usage in NSW from a population-based linkage project, following the implementation of the NSW Blood Watch program. 2011

Quality Systems Assessment: Statewide Report Summary of Findings from the Area Health Services and Children’s Hospital Westmead. November 2008

Quality Systems Assessment: Statewide Report Summary of Findings from the Ambulance Service NSW. November 2008

Quality Systems Assessment: Statewide Report Summary of Findings from the Justice Health System. Nov 2008

Report on the NSW Blood Transfusion Improvement Collaborative 2002

Recent presentations 2010–11

Using linked data sets & improvement methods to drive change Sebel Albert Park, Melbourne (Criterion)

Patient Blood Management Program in NSW – Transfusion Outcomes Research Committee Seminar, South Wharf, Melbourne

Interns Conference – med students stage 3/day 2 – Royal Prince Alfred Hosptial

University Sydney master's Nursing students on clinical leadership x2

"Providing clinical leadership in safety and quality cultures: a national and state-wide perspective?"– Sydney Nursing School

Australian Association of Health Care Quality (AAQHC), Perth Convention Centre: workshop clinical practice improvement

Clinical Practice Improvement workshops x 25

Presentation to Directors of Clinical Governance on International Approaches to Quality and Safety (USA and Scotland), North Sydney

Q&S workshop Notre Dame for first year medical students

Australian Red Cross Blood Service Transfusion Medicine Update

Presentation 'Fast Tracking Evidence into Practice, Melbourne

University Technology Sydney, Master of Midwifery and Nursing Leading Clinical Improvement

Q&S workshop University Technology Sydney (Lindfield) first year nursing students

Presentation to CEC staff (Sydney) – overview of approaches to patient safety and quality improvement USA visit – Intermountain Healthcare & Institute for Health Improvement

Quality and Safety workshop with University Technology Sydney (Lindfield) first year nursing students

Plenary Presentation on Leadership for CLP and Effective Leadership (ELP) graduation, SESIAHS

Podcast recording of health care improvement lectures x2 for University Technology Sydney first year students

Quality and Safety workshop with University Technology Sydney (Lindfield) first year nursing students

Blood Management presentation to senior Chinese clinicians and health executives, Sydney

Presentation to the Broken Hill Health Council on international trends in health care improvement

Sydney University Graduate Medical program CPI workshop, Kerry Packer Auditorium, Sydney

Australian Association of Health Care Quality (AAQHC), Darling Harbour: workshop clinical practice improvement

Lecture to University Sydney masters Nursing students on clinical leadership



2001 Australian American Fulbright Professional Scholar


2009 NSW Public Relations Institute Awards – Winner “Blood Watch – Transfusion Question”

2009 Australian Public Relations Institute – Golden Target Awards – winner “Blood Watch – Transfusion Question”

2001 1st Prize: Presentation Free Paper, International Safety Quality in Health Care, Mexico City


2002 The NSW Blood Transfusion Improvement Collaborative. Funded by the Institute for Clinical Excellence (now Clinical Excellence Commission). Reported to the NSW Health Department

1995 Quality in Australian Health Care Study. Commonwealth funded study following competitive tender. Total funding was $1.5 million

1995 Patient Satisfaction and Technical Care Study, Project Management. Report to the Commonwealth Department of Health titled, Complaints, Satisfaction and the Technical Quality of Care, to August 1996

1995 Project leader in the design and development of computer system to run the QARNS Program Funding source has been NSAHS and the NSW Local Initiatives Committee (LIC). The project has involved working with a commercial computer software company Somerset Systems. The product went live in January 1997; it is an Access database with reporting through crystal reports software. The software was presented in a live demonstration at the 9th Australian Association of Quality in Health Care Meeting held in Darling Harbour June 1998.

1995 Australian Health Care Incident Monitoring Study, collaborative centre Project Management. Commonwealth Funded Project to 1996

1992 Australian Institute of Health Pilot Study "Evaluation of Applicability in Australia of the Harvard Practice Study on Adverse Events in Hospitals". Project manager, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

1991 NSW Department of Health funded Quality Assurance Pilot Project 1991–1993, "Validation of the QARNS Patient Selection Methodology." Reported December 1993 Wilson RM, Irwig L, March L, Harrison BT.

Community work

2010–current Inaugural Member of Waterloo Foundation Australia which supports young Aboriginal women in the Parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Mount Carmel Way Waterloo NSW

2009–current University of Sydney graduate choir - member

1990–current Sacred Heart Parish Music Ministry (chorister, cantor and musician)

2005–current Interviewer for Altitude (formerly GAP Australia) – current

2008 World Youth day host family to five Fijian visitors to Sacred Heart Parish

2002–2005 Chair of Sacred Heart Parish Liturgy Committee