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Our weeknotes are based on what we’re hearing from improvers across the UK and Ireland, members and partners, and colleagues at the Health Foundation.

We try and do these weekly and keep them relatively short. Let us know if you find them helpful, or have suggestions for improvements.


What’s going on in improvement?

I was struck by the findings of yesterday’s ONS survey on the social impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It showed we’re all gradually coming to terms with this world-altering event, with expectations for when life will ‘return to normal’ getting longer. And while there are increases in people thinking we’ll be a kinder and more united society after this, there’s much less confidence that we’ll be a more equal society. These two points connected closely with what I’ve seen and heard at work this week.

On the first, it’s heartening to see so many of you recognising that, if we’re in this for the long-haul, we need to learn and share so that we create more effective and sustainable ways to connect with others remotely. Whether that’s through brilliantly-run virtual QI training or video consultations, or tools to support your teams, we’ve summarised some of what we’ve heard on this below.

On the latter – and having only recently joined the Q team after working in social justice charities – I feel real concern about health inequalities and how we design services to minimise these. At the end of this weeknote, we share some interesting pieces we’ve seen on this topic.

Rapid learning and improvement

This week Q’s Twitter feed was alight with people asking for, and sharing, learning on how to run virtual meetings and training. Some great resources and ideas were shared:

  • Q member Vardeep summed-up some of tips, which included the 1-2-4-All exercise from Liberating Structures.

There are so many tips out there to get our heads round quickly! So, we’re really pleased to be working with Surrey and Borders Partnership to bring you an online event to share ideas for adapting QI training courses for virtual learning. Register to join us on 22 May.

Video consultations

It’s been interesting to see some of the stats coming through on the uptake of virtual consultations. Data from England’s rapid video consultation rollout shows that the numbers of video consultations are increasing daily, with around 7,000 a day via the Attend Anywhere platform alone. In Scotland, NHS Near Me has exceeded 10,000 consultations-per-week.

Although these stats only paint a partial picture, the scale and uptake of video consultations is significant. We know it will be so important to explore how we make this rapid shift sustainable, as two of my Q colleagues touched on in their latest blog.

Staff health and wellbeing

Just as we have to adapt our service delivery, we also have to adapt how we support our colleagues and teams. This week a number of national, local and professional bodies in Scotland launched the National Wellbeing Hub for people working in health and social care. It has resources for individuals and as well as for managers.

East London Foundation Trust shared their Working Well Handy Guide: A guide designed to be used by teams and individuals to help them build staff satisfaction and wellbeing using a Quality Improvement (QI) approach.

Tom Walker, a physio from Royal Papworth NHS Trust shared his honest account of what it’s been like to care for critically ill COVID-19 patients and how he is looking after his own mental health and wellbeing.

Health inequalities

Inequalities will be a big focus as we emerge from COVID-19. As the Lancet succinctly put it: “The world has paused — there is an opportunity to invest in social protection, to prioritise policies to reduce inequalities, and to give equity a particularly noticeable priority.”

The Local Government Association, Public Health England and the Association of Directors of Public Health have collated a set of resources relating to health inequalities and COVID-19. These aim to support place-based approaches to mitigate against potential impacts on those with the poorest health outcomes.

Five organisations, including some Health Foundation colleagues, will be exploring questions around inequalities and much, much more through the Analytical Collaboration for COVID-19. We’ll be keeping an eye out for their findings.

And, if you’re as interested as I am in some of the faces behind all these numbers, take a look at National Voice’s new initiative – Our COVID Voices – capturing the stories of people living with health conditions, disabilities or illnesses during this period.

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