Tell us a little bit about yourself and your improvement journey?
I started my work on service improvements while leading the Hartlepool Partnership from 2000-2010. It was a Local Strategic Partnership, working across the borough, bringing together community and voluntary sector representatives with those from the public and private sectors. It was an enriching and incredibly rewarding role. There was very much a can do attitude from the MP, the directly elected Mayor, all of the chief executives, business leaders and community representatives who attended, to improve Hartlepool as a whole not just their individual college, police station, job centre or hospital. I realised then that it was the space between meetings that was important – the opportunities for improvements to be identified during informal conversations as well as strategic reviews. Equally important were the high levels of trust that developed and enabled partners to be open with each other about challenges in service delivery.
But that improvement took place in a very different political and financial environment to the one I’m working in today. The borough was receiving significant additional funding from central government to tackle health inequalities, community safety, education and employment. A wealth of organisations, including the Improvement and Development Agency, Government Office North East, the Audit Commission, the Strategic Health Authority, and the Health Inequalities National Support Team were on hand to offer support when you wanted it. And often when you didn’t!
I think the key to delivering improvement is to really understand the reality of what goes on in the GP practice, on the ward, in the clinic and the pressures people are under in their everyday working life.
In my current role I’m leading a service improvement programme optimising anticoagulation for Atrial Fibrillation. Here, I think the key to delivering improvement is to really understand the reality of what goes on in the GP practice, on the ward, in the clinic and the pressures people are under in their everyday working life.
What attracted you to Q?
There were two key reasons. The fact Q strongly positions patients and service users at the heart of improvement activity and the wide range of learning opportunities available. I was particularly attracted by the fact I can tailor my involvement, matching my current learning needs and interests with available opportunities.
What are you hoping to get out of Q?
I’m really looking forward to the peer-to-peer support – that I can learn from and with people actively delivering quality improvement, understanding current challenges and opportunities. I think delivering improvements in health and care is so unique – the pressures on the system, the funding and payment systems that sit in the background, the complexities of IT and information governance and the rich opportunities for research. And yet the real challenge is remembering we are delivering service improvements at a time when many of our service users are feeling incredibly vulnerable, painful or anxious. Sometimes it’s easy to forget our own responsibility for learning and development, and I’m really hoping that being a Q member will bring a renewed focus to this part of my work.