Finalists line up for insight awards

The way that NHS services take account of feedback and experiences of patients, carers and staff to drive improvement is under the microscope this week as the finalists in the Using Insight for Improvement category of the Patient Experience Network National Awards are announced:

There’s an impressive array of work on show up and down the country.

Nominees cover health care from the start of life until its final stages; from helping to provide a more personalised experience for around 1,250 women who have their babies by caesarean section in the operating theatres of St George’s Hospital in Tooting, to using the experience of Hospice UK’s volunteer carers and patients to review and improve end-of-life facilities in hospitals and hospices around the country.

NHS England’s Insight and Feedback team supports this category of the Patient Experience Network’s (PEN) awards, a major event each year to recognise patient experience.

The not-for-profit’s website has details of the shortlisted entries across some 21 categories and culminates in a vibrant celebration of NHS work as the awards showcase and share the dedication and ingenuity of people in England’s healthcare system.  This year’s ceremony is in Birmingham on 20 March.

Along with some of my colleagues, I’m involved with partners at PEN in planning and delivering the insight category and, each summer, we share the good practice from that year’s batch of finalists with more than 250 NHS colleagues in four events around the country.

As always, I am filled with admiration for those who – usually on a shoestring and while continuing to deliver their demanding day jobs – come up with and put in place a wide spectrum of ideas to make things better for their patients.  What strikes me is that many of the initiatives are often relatively simple and don’t cost very much: they just need an inspired person or team with the determination to give it a try.

There are 15 finalists in our category this year and you can find out a little bit about each of them from our summaries. 

One of the more unusual initiatives was in response to the challenge faced in trying to improve the experience of men with autism or a learning disability in a secure service in Hertfordshire. Staff recognised the men’s carers and loved ones as a rich source of information on how they could make improvements for patients and families alike and they formed the Broadland Clinic Carers’ Group to bring them together.

Meanwhile, the child health unit at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust wanted to do more to embed feedback into their work.  As well as inviting input from their patients and their families, they also called on some other experts: local schoolchildren.  The 8 to 11-year-olds mounted a Takeover Day, redesigning the unit’s surveys and creating an enduring and colourful Wonderwall of feedback comments.

Many of the initiatives are about making patients and service users happier and more comfortable during their contact with healthcare professionals, but it’s worth remembering there can be other benefits too. Barking Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust listened to staff’s views about how they could safely and supportively discharge patients needing a collar or brace device rather than keeping them in hospital beds.  Thanks to their ideas, the trust was able to increase expertise in assessing and supporting these patients in their own homes.

An evaluation after the first 18 months showed the initiative involved 87 patients being supported at home with more personalised care, saving 1,911 bed days and saving costs of £675,975.

Keep in touch with news of the awards via PEN’s website and, if you’re part of the NHS and would like to come to one of our good practice events in the summer, look out for details on the site when they open for registrations in a couple of months. As always, we’ll be inviting our delegates to soak up the good practice and “steal with pride”.

Gillian Radcliffe

Gillian Radcliffe leads communications and engagement work within the Insight and Feedback Team at NHS England, supporting work primarily on the Friends and Family Test but also around national surveys and related projects.

Gillian has been a senior communications professional in the public sector for almost 30 years, with experience in the health, education and criminal justice sectors.