How did you first get involved in improvement, and what has been your journey since then?
My first real experience of quality improvement was during my pharacist pre-registration year when I was tasked with looking at the safety and wastage surrounding the supply of medical gases within the hospital trust where I was employed. Initially, the thought of quality improvement struck me as dull; however I soon caught the bug and still have it to this day!
Built into training as a pharmacist is the importance of spotting errors and preventing these leading to patient harm, but I regularly found myself thinking how I could stop these errors happening in the first place. Surely there is a better way of doing things? This led me to make the move to a permanent role in quality improvement. I now work within an NHS transformation/quality improvement team and I spend my day supporting quality improvement projects and contributing to training other staff on QI methodology. I have recently enrolled on a Flow Coaching Academy and will be going back to university in the autumn to begin a post graduate qualification with QI and innovation components.
Built into training as a pharmacist is the importance of spotting errors and preventing these leading to patient harm, but I regularly found myself thinking how I could stop these errors happening in the first place.
What most inspires you professionally?
My main career inspiration is the ability to help other people. I enjoy being able to influence the care of large numbers of people simultaneously through my projects and specifically for the NHS. Most people who work for the NHS do so because they want to help people and it inspires me to see so many people in the same organisation trying to improve services for a better patient and staff experience.
Can you share a hard-won lesson you’ve learnt about what makes for a successful (or unsuccessful) improvement project?
Working in quality improvement is a constant learning experience; what works well for one project might not suit the next and there are a couple of valuable lessons that I have learned. Going back to my first projects, I wanted to tackle everything in one go which isn’t conducive to success. My advice is to break things into manageable chunks and prevent scope creep (don’t keep adding to projects until you fix the original problem or you will never reach completion!)
A positive learning experience is that the most successful projects involve a well engaged team. Forcing change upon people can have a negative impact; bringing the changes and ideas from the teams involved in the service results in a more positive experience and successful outcome.
Most people who work for the NHS do so because they want to help people and it inspires me to see so many people in the same organisation trying to improve services for a better patient and staff experience.
What change could we make that would do most to embed continuous improvement in health and care?
The most common reason I encounter from people for not being involved in improvement work is that they thought they couldn’t or weren’t allowed to make changes. I think we should find ways to facilitate our frontline staff being actively involved in QI work, as often the best people to improve a system or process are those who use it – including patients!
Why did you join Q?
Having made the move from pharmacy to quality improvement, I wanted somewhere that I could network, read what other people were doing and get tips to help me develop my career. A large part of quality improvement is sharing and sustaining change. Within the NHS, I find that we are not always willing to share ideas and improvement with each other despite all having the same goal. Q helps break that barrier and allows sharing of ideas. I also liked the ability to find out about local events and forums that being a member of the Q community offers.
What new connections have you made as a result of joining the Q community – and what have you learnt so far?
I have only been a member of Q for the last few months but I already find the newsletters interesting and useful. I plan to attend a Q event in my locality in the future and it is great to know the range of networking events that are available to Q members.
Can you tell us about something you’re currently working on that Q members might be able to get involved with?
I have just started a Flow Coaching programme and it would be good to hear other people’s experiences of this method of working.