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Working for Q, which is based at the Health Foundation, it’s a privilege to get an overview of what’s happening in improvement across the UK, and indeed internationally.

There’s great work happening all over (Q Exchange just a small example of that) but it is particularly exciting to see what is happening in Wales.

This week, 1000 Lives Wales, the national body for improvement in Wales, became Improvement Cymru. At their annual conference yesterday, over 400 improvers came together to mark this new phase of their development at their annual conference.

As part of that, it was exciting to formally announce Q Lab Cymru – an improvement Lab focusing on health and care challenges in Wales, created in partnership with the Q Initiative, and made possible by the Health Foundation and Improvement Cymru.

What is Q Lab Cymru?

Q Lab Cymru will be a team and a space within Improvement Cymru, supporting those working on key priorities to learn, experiment and adjust programmes so they can connect as well as possible with the reality of change on the ground and have even greater impact.

Q Lab Cymru will be developed with, and is inspired by, the Q Improvement Lab. which has developed ways to build momentum and make progress on some of the most complex issues facing health and care.

Working collaboratively, both Labs will convene system leaders, practitioners and people with lived experience, helping make more from the knowledge currently trapped in silos as we tackle similar problems in parallel.

Lab participants at a workshop

The Labs get their name because they’re experimental; Because often the answers don’t exist yet, or don’t exist in a way that works for you in your system – Labs provide space for people to learn, reflect and try new things in a supported environment.

I’m conscious that the language of innovation and improvement Labs, creating infrastructure for us to design better strategies for spread can sometimes feel abstract. But ultimately, everything Q Lab Cymru will be doing will be focused on helping the ideas, resources and passion we invest in improving care, make the biggest possible difference for citizens in Wales.

Q Lab Cymru and Q

Q Lab Cymru will not just be a place for making the most of the collective expertise and perspectives within Wales. It is connected to Q and therefore to the ‘hive-mind’ of 3500+ people with experience in improvement, committed to a more joined-up approach to making things better. It is an opportunity to strengthen the two-way channels for tapping into the wisdom of the Q community and sharing learning far and wide to improve care in practice.

When the Q Improvement Lab was first set up in 2017, the ambition was to set up a small network of Labs across the UK. Expanding the Labs network is also a key feature of Q’s long-term plans.

Q Lab Cymru is the first of that expansion, and we now have a mini-network of two improvement Labs to work together and continue to develop collaborative and creative ways of improving care.

What next?

Q Lab Cymru will go live in Spring 2020.

Q Lab Cymru is in the design phase so between now and then, the project team will be reaching out to a range of people – including many Q members – to help build and shape Q Lab Cymru.

We will keep in touch about how it’s going on the Q blog, and hope many of you will be involved over the coming months and years.

If you want to make sure we know you’re keen to stay connected, or have any initial thoughts or questions, do not hesitate to get in touch with the Q Lab team: QLab@health.org.uk.

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