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About Quality Improvement

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The Health Foundation regards quality as the degree of excellence in healthcare.  This excellence is multi-dimensional, for example, it is widely accepted that healthcare should be: 
  • Safe
  • Effective
  • Person-centred
  • Timely
  • Efficient
  • Equitable

Our approach to achieving quality improvement is to adopt a systemic change methodology that is well understood, easily adopted and reflected in everything that we are and do, our culture, our people and our processes.  This is supported by robust control and assurance mechanisms. 

So where did it all begin for the Quality Improvement programme, and introducing new methodologies and ways of working to teams across the Trust?

Southern Health, along with the whole of the NHS, is at a point where significant change is required. With an increasing population and people experiencing more complex conditions than ever before, staff are under an increasing amount of pressure. It is widely recognised that existing ways of working will not be sustainable, and will no longer enable us to give the best outcomes for our patients. 

The trust therefore embarked on a period of substantial transformation in late 2017, beginning with a focus on our approach to quality improvement. We wanted to learn from best practice seen in other NHS Trusts and implement some of these successes locally, as well as build on the excellent work already taking place within our own organisation. We are always striving to improve and the challenge was to make this real and sustainable change - it couldn't be a small project and it couldn't fizzle out. 

This means shifting the culture of decision making, giving our employees the autonomy and confidence to make changes themselves where they know that outcomes for patients can be improved. Initially we worked in close partnership with colleagues from Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, to learn from their experience in this process of transformation and improvement.

The programme has seen a small number of staff  take part in intensive quality improvement training, learning practical tools and methodologies that can be applied in all our services. These staff are now using their new knowledge and skills to lead transformation projects and also provide support and training to others, so that their expertise can be shared and used to deliver real change.

As the Quality Improvement programme continues more projects will be identified, and as more staff develop their training and skills, improvements will be coproduced and implemented in all areas. The Trust Board is clear that in order to make the right changes in the right places, a collection of staff, service users, patients and their carers and families must be involved at every stage. Those who deliver and receive our services are the experts in helping to make them more effective, and this is a key driver for the programme.

A Quality Improvement Programme Board has been set up to oversee and drive forward our plans to improve our services through the use of quality improvement methodologies across the Trust. The board is chaired by Karl Marlowe, and has a broad membership including staff side, carers and service users reflecting our commitment to genuine co-production.  

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We encourage our staff to act on their quality improvement ideas at a local level.  We train staff in the quality input method, including PDSA (Plan, Do, Study, Act) models to help them implement their ideas and actions as effectively as possible.  This tool is easy to use and can help staff solve local problems. 
Plan Do Study Act
  • Pursue value and quality as defined by the end user
  • Understand through observation - go, look, see, measure
  • Remove waste - work that adds no value and burdens staff
  • Create flow
  • Make it visible so you can see what is happening
  • Standardise, document and continuously improve operations 
We have developed a range of activities to embed evidence based tools throughout the Trust, including training and coaching.
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We have a central team of 6 expert QI Coaches - responsible for coordinating and promoting the quality improvement approach and embedding QI culture.

QI Certified Leaders

We have trained a number of QI Certified Leaders who are able to lead teams to deliver service transformation and small scale change projects.

QI Practitioners

We offer training courses for all staff in the form of "bitesize" QI methodology to equip staff with the tools to be able to carry out their own smaller scale QI projects within their teams.  

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