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SSA Toolkit

Evaluate risk


Evaluate risk

Evaluate risk

Deciding which risks need to be tackled

This section looks at how to decide which risks need to be tackled. This is important because there are unlikely to be enough resources to address all the potential risks in the system. This section examines how to decide which risks to address based on their risk ratings.

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Evaluate risk is the final activity in the Assess phase of SSA
Evaluate risk is an activity in the Assess phase of SSA

Evaluating risk

It is important to evaluate the risk scores calculated in the Analyse risk activity against the risk criteria that were established during the Set risk criteria activity. These risk criteria include information on what types of action are required for different risk scores. This is often expressed as a set of different coloured bands with different meanings. Information on how to retrieve these criteria is given in the Analyse risk activity.

Applying these criteria to the risk scores results in a risk classification for each issue identified, with colour-coding enabling the reader to see at a glance which issues require the most attention. Red is typically used for high risks which must be prioritised for treatment, while green is used for lower ones that may not require immediate action.

For example, in the table below, the issue of having insufficient staff to accept the patient has a risk score of 4 (coloured green). This means that the risk is acceptable, and no particular immediate action is required. In contrast, the issue of a delay in getting staff in place (drawing them from other areas of the unit if necessary) has a risk score of 16 (coloured red), indicating that some action is necessary.


Portion of a risk table, showing colour codings of the risk scores. For example, the issue: Insufficient staff available, leading to inability to accept the patient has a risk score of 3, which is coded green. The issue of insufficient staff leading to reduced staffing has a risk score of 16, and is coded red. A risk of 12 is coded orange, while two risks of 4 are coded green.
Examples of colour codings applied to risk scores


Typically, the impact and likelihood scores are based on estimates, leading to a degree of uncertainty in the associated risk scores. As a result, some orange ratings may in fact be red, while others may be green, and so on. The local Trust's rules should be followed in classifying risk in each of the risk bands. Where there is some doubt it is wise to err on the side of caution.

Putting ‘Evaluating risk’ into practice

Space to record this information is provided in the SSA Assessment Form. To do this:

  1. Select the ‘Identify/Analyse/Evaluate risks’ page in the Assessment Form.
  2. Colour-code the risk scores in column J (headed What is the risk?). The spreadsheet version of the form automatically performs this colour-coding using the risk criteria from the ‘Outline’ page. In earlier versions of Excel (prior to Excel 2007) or if extra rows have been added to the risk assessment table, you may need to apply the colour manually.
Screenshot of the Risks page of the assessment form

Case Study

Part of the completed ‘Identify/Analyse/Evaluate risks’ page from the Section 136 case study is shown opposite, with colour coding applied to the risk scores. Further explanation of this stage in the case study can be found on the Section 136 page about Evaluating risk.