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Developing people, improving emergency care: Caroline Poole’s 2018 journey

In December 2017 I began my Clinical Fellowship, with a focus on evidencing the “state of the nation” of leadership for the allied health professions (AHPs), and its relationship to quality and productivity.  Colleagues at Kingston University Enterprise Limited undertook a fabulous evaluation1 to provide the answers.

We found that AHP leadership was hugely variable and highly complex – 41 different job titles from 43 job descriptions for the “go-to” AHP lead! Little wonder that it was confusing, that AHP leaders were difficult to find and often missing at the decision-making table.

So what?  We found that AHPs in trusts investing in senior leadership were more engaged with improvement work and sharing AHP innovations that impact positively on the quality of patient care.   

improving emergency care

AHPs are the NHS’s third largest workforce and practise in most clinical pathways, across organisational boundaries and at all stages of patients’ pathways. Our national strategy2 clearly demonstrates our potential for system improvement, innovation and transformation. 

We conclude that AHP leadership is crucial to this.  My fellowship ended with the publication of a summary of the findings and a call to action for trust boards2.  There is an appetite out there – the document has been downloaded over 5,000 times and over 60 trusts have sought support to implement improvements.

My next portfolio piece was to enable AHPs to contribute to the ambition to reduce longer lengths of stay by 25% by Christmas 2018.  What a golden opportunity to support AHP leaders to come out and show their brilliance, working collaboratively and through a structured support offer to achieve rapid improvements in patient flow. 

Working closely with my AHP colleague in the Emergency Care Intensive Support Team, we’ve enabled 44 trusts and their system partners to identify and implement opportunities to improve flow, using quality improvement methodology. 

The shared ethos of our work is to be more patient-centred – asking what matters most to patients?  Is home where they would rather be?  How do we challenge existing systems and cultures to make this happen more often, for more patients?

The effects of staying in hospital longer than necessary are increasingly recognised thanks to social movements such as #PJParalysis and #last1000days.  We know we can do better for patients.

What a brilliant year it’s been; I am thankful for the opportunity to work with so many amazing AHP leaders who are committed to improving patient care.  I’ve learned there is so much hidden AHP energy, enthusiasm and commitment to lead and to improve.  Harnessing that potential and realising the benefits has got to be one of our biggest opportunities.

I would urge anyone reading this blog to go and find your AHP lead and engage with your AHP community – ask them how they could help you with your own quality and productivity challenges.

Invite them to your decision-making table, both in provider organisations and as part of your sustainability and transformation work.  Explore what they have to offer you.  Working collaboratively, reaping the rewards and sharing success must be our priority going into 2019.

by Caroline Poole

Caroline will be speaking at our Quality Improvement in Healthcare Conference on 23rd January.

Get in touch on 0161 295 6989 to speak to a member of the Salford ONECPD team about special ticket rates.

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