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Q members in Teeside – Improving together

Susy Cook, Q member and Associate Dean at Teeside University, talks about how a local collective of Qs from the university and South Tees, North Tees and Hartlepool Trusts is coming together not only to work on projects but to show the benefit of those projects.

What motivated you to set up a local group for Q members in Teeside?
Teesside and the local region has a large, active network of Q members. When I moved to Teesside University from the North East and North Cumbria AHSN, I was keen to maintain my level of involvement in the group. The feedback I received while working on Q at the local AHSN was that Q is great, but we’re consistently being asked to feed back into our organisations about the benefits generated for the time we invest in Q.

I identified an opportunity to bring together all the local Q members, from our local trusts, South Tees, North Tees etc. and the Q members at Teeside University. We wanted to come together first of all to network, because many of us don’t know what the others are doing locally let alone nationally, and also to start to talk about the joint work we could do between the university and our local trusts. Work that would fit with Q and that would start to take improvement forward in our local trust with support from the university.

When an initiative has a clear benefit on a wider level it’s accepted more readily in the current climate.

I went out across the university, linking with the AHSN, asking if people would be interested, and got a lot of positive responses. A lot of people came along to our first meeting, and we were all on the same page saying we want to be involved but we needed to see some output. We agreed to have another more structured meeting to discuss potential projects for the future that we could all be engaged in and met up again in April to talk about a number of things. We plan to meet once every three months.

What themes came out of that meeting in terms of areas of interest?
Our aim has been to create a network of people in Q that can produce evidence to show that the time we’re spending on Q is beneficial and we’re getting something out of it that benefits our region and beyond.

Julia Wood and I shared our Joy at Work progress, for which we also have a SIG, and that created interest on a number of levels. A lot of people felt this was something they could bring back to their work and trial within their teams.

At the same time, one of our Q members, a pediatrician, was interested in submitting a bid for the Q exchange and asked if we’d support them as a university from an evaluation perspective. Small pots of funding for projects, like with Q Exchange, are great.

Human Factors was another area that we had some good discussions around. Along with another lecturer at the university, I’m linking up with North Tees hospital to look at human factors. We all see a need for greater use of Human Factors, but we’ve lost our way in terms of what it really means. We’re looking to run a masters in Human Factors and potentially doing a piece of work through Q, looking at what people really want, whether that’s masterclasses, training or education. What would that look like for the future?

Why is pressure to evidence output mounting?
That’s just the nature of the beast at the moment – the NHS is pressurised, the education system is pressurised, and we have to warrant time spent. When an initiative has a clear benefit on a wider level it’s accepted more readily in the current climate. A lot of people accept this and dedicate a lot of their own personal time to working on things, but we’re doing more and more in our own time and we need to prove it’s worth doing within our work time.

How important is it to connect locally as well as nationally?
I think both local and national connections are equally valuable. There is so much to be learnt from linking more widely. But we’ve found the challenge is that because of the all the pressures people often can’t afford to travel for events and they lose touch. The more we keep in touch locally the more we can connect regionally. In the North we also sometimes feel that events are often in the South, so the more accessible events are for everyone the better.

In the beginning I was a little bit skeptical about bringing people together. I thought that despite people joining Q it would be hard to get local engagement, however I’ve been really surprised at how well the group has come together and the interesting opportunities it has created.

*Prior to moving to Teeside University, Susy Cook acted as the lead local partner for Q at the North East and North Cumbria AHSN

If you are interested in finding our more about Improving Joy in Work you can join the SIG that Susy set up with fellow Q member Julia Wood: 

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