Featured Doctor

ASTIER-PEÑA, Prof María-Pilar (English/español)

Spain - Chair WP Quality & Safety

Prof Maria Pilar Astier- Peña is the new chair of the WONCA Working Party on Quality and Safety in Family Medicine.


What work do you do now?

I work as a family doctor in a rural health centre (Centro de Salud Tauste, Zaragoza, Spain).

I am also a professor at the University of Zaragoza. I belong to the Medical Ethics and Professionalism Unit and I teach medical students on improving clinical reasoning as a strategy to reduce diagnostic errors and improve professionalism. At this moment I am focused on research about patient safety in primary care.

Other interesting things you have done?

I have been the chair of the patient safety working group of the Spanish Society for Family and Community Medicine (SEMFYC) since 2012. We have a blog where we publish patient safety in primary care issues. We also have a twitter account to spread information to enhance patient safety in family medicine: @sanoysalvoblog. We use several hashtags #PtSafety and #SegPac (in Spanish).

We organise the Annual Conference on patient safety in primary care in Spain in collaboration with four other Spanish scientific societies (Spanish Society for Healthcare Quality, Spanish Society for Family and Community Medicine, Spanish Society for Primary Care Pharmacists, Spanish Federation of Primary Care Nursing Associations). Two of our recent reports can be seen here one in English y aqui en Español.

As I have been always interested on healthcare quality issues, I have been a member of the National Board of the Spanish Society for Quality in HealthCare (SECA) since 2008, and have served as treasurer and currently as Honorary Secretary.

I am a reviewer for the SEMFYC Primary Care Journal (Revista Atención Primaria) since 2013, and SECA Journal (Revista Calidad Asistencial).

I worked as a hospital manager for eight years and in that position, I obtained European Foundation for Quality Management audit expertise. I have worked with other quality management systems in primary care as ISO (International Society Office) certification 9001:2008 for the Caspe Health Centre, in Aragón.

My personal commitment to quality and patient safety during my professional career led me to join the WONCA Working Party on Quality and Safety, in 2008.

What do you hope to achieve as the new chair of the WONCA Working Party on Quality and Safety (WWPQS)?

First, I want to thank you very much the former WWPQS, Dr Daniel Thuraiappah, who chaired the group for the last six years and promoted many activities to enhance a quality and safety culture among family doctors.

Leading the way for the next two years, I will be joined by Dr José-Miguel Bueno-Ortiz (as secretary) and Dr Alexandre Gouveia (as IT Officer).

This year one activity we plan is to contribute regularly to WONCA News with short items about quality and safety issues in primary care. Our aim is to support family doctors in their daily work with best practice ideas in quality and safety.

We are developing a strategic plan to coordinate activities in all WONCA Regions and to collaborate with other institutions that are interested in promoting patient safety and quality in family medicine.

We do not see our working party as in competition with other evidence based medicine groups but as complementary and closer to family practices where primary care activities take place.

Patient safety has always been at the heart of the movement to improve quality in health care. I believe we are at an turning point in the history of improving patient safety in primary care. There are many factors that are changing: payment models, uncertainty surrounding health reforms around the world, and the modern digital age which demand lively and creative thinking on how best to ensure harm-free care in every practice.

I am aware of the great variety of settings in which family doctors work around the world, of patients and communities, and of very different access to technologies etcetera. Nevertheless, our challenge is to offer the safest, most reliable and most effective care as possible. This goal years made up of two crucial behaviours: a quality and safety culture, and a continuing learning approach.

What are your interests outside work?

I enjoy my family, my husband Jorge and my two daughters (Leticia and Lucia) and my son, Juan. I like playing sports with them such as running, swimming, basketball. I enjoy dancing and meditating four a small moment every day (Insight timer).

I love travelling around the world talking and sharing lives with people from different origins and cultures, feeling the life in the world.