Last week started with a bang. I spent three days with 18 of the most engaging and honest people from across the whole of NWAS. We embarked on our first Breakthrough Series College, a course designed for our staff to develop as leaders in the skills required to deliver improvement programmes at scale.
Like everyone new to this type of development, cohort 1 came in a little apprehensive but we soon warmed up with an effective exercise looking for similarities between groups of ten people.
Interestingly there were lots of similarities. We’ve all enjoyed holidays and we’ve all been to London, but there was one table that came up with the surprise, none of them ever press snooze when their alarm goes off in the morning. That got me thinking; how could that be? I’m someone who sets three alarms just so I can snooze. The day just doesn’t feel right if I have to leap out of bed and yet, here I was with a table of non snoozers.
Improvement is full of surprises and it’s the differences between people and approaches that sits at the heart of collaborative improvement. We were going to have a good time!
Over the three days the group got more and more into the content but, arguably more importantly, they started to share why they work for NWAS and why they are passionate about the work we do.
We heard stories of people’s home lives, harrowing examples of frontline teams being alone at difficult jobs with no support, and personal loss of loved ones. At some points there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. Now the course is over these courageous improvers go back to their teams and start their journey of their improvement leadership. They have new knowledge but more important than that, they have a shared commitment to make NWAS the best place in the world to work and the best ambulance service in the UK. But, most importantly they also have one another.
There were many ideas that were explored but, for me, three significant ones have emerged:
1. Kids first – a programme of work to make NWAS the most child centred emergency service in the UK! Building on the work of the transformation programme, the team the group discussed how a breakthrough series collaborative might be a helpful vehicle to develop this and create the movement required to educate staff, change the environment, work in partnership and celebrate our service excellence from EOC, 111 and 999. Working with children, child carers and children who frequently use our services.
2. Half at home – a programme to ensure that we safely leave 50% of patients in their home environment by March 2021. Here the team see the education of staff in better triage, enhanced skills, access to information and closer relationships with local services as key to unlocking the remaining potential of our frontline clinicians.
3. Fab Fourteen – every minute matters. We have been working with six key hospitals since October 2018 on a pioneering hospital handover improvement programme. The aim of the programme is to reduce delays and improve the experience of patients and carers, including reducing long waits in corridors. The ‘super six’ have now been joined with another eight organisations to get hospital handover down to 20 minutes by March 2021. With resources consumed at a monetary value of £1m per minute, this would yield us in excess of £10m of productivity gain which can be put back into staff and patient welfare. Shifts ending on time, staff dined within their allocated meal break window and resources available to respond.
The teams will be supported by the fabulous Katharine Goldthorpe, Head of Improvement and her newly formed team in the Improvement Hub. Advanced Paramedic, Jane Clayton joins us as an improvement advisor and she will be working closely with Asha Blake, Quality Business Manager and Rachel Standeven, Improvement Hub Manager. The wonderful Deb Collins, Project Support Manager and Paul Shelmerdine, Quality Administration Assistant also support the teams as they begin their improvement work.
I’m going away from the week having learned so much about myself and so much about NWAS. What a heart this organisation has and what a bright future we have. Wherever you are, whatever contribution you make it is so important to the care we provide. Keep doing it and thank you.
If you want to get more involved in our Improvement work then contact us and we will happily connect you to the network of underground and overground improvers who are working every day not just to do the job but to improve the job.
I myself am embarking on a personal improvement, no snoozing on the job, as my daughter would say ‘if you snooze you lose’.