Reaching for the summit of NHS Change Day

Jenny Hicken, a Network Delivery Facilitator for NHS England’s Northern Clinical Networks and Senate on Tyneside, applauds NHS Change Day hitting 297,000 pledges – and that is even before it officially launches at the Health and Care Innovation Expo!!

The buzz surrounding NHS Change Day is reaching fever pitch.

With the big day taking place on Monday March 3, coinciding with the start of the NHS Innovation Expo in Manchester, my Twitter timeline is awash with pledges, calls to action and encouragement to get involved.

The number of pledges has soared in just the last couple of weeks as Change Day gathers speed, and it’s hard not to get swept up in the momentum of it all. A real sense of positivity exudes from every Tweet, every post, and every pledge.

The current total at time of writing this stands at around 297,000 pledges – already above last year’s total of 189,000 and well on our way to this year’s target of 500,000. Quite simply, a phenomenal number of people are taking the initiative to make a change for the better, and the already fantastic total is rising all the time.

Hospitals have been collecting pledges in receptions, wards, and staff canteens.  Offices have set up pledge trees (including mine). Change Day champions in community-based organisations and universities have been hard at work collecting pledges from students, patients and the public in whatever way they can. With just a few people taking the initiative, pledges are being uploaded en masse from large organisations, capturing the spirit of Change Day and spreading the word far and wide.

My colleagues at the Northern Clinical Networks and Senate have been busy adding their leaves to our office pledge tree, and I have added each one to the Change Day website.

Some members of our team are undertaking community volunteering on March 3 as part of their pledges, helping out in local hospices by decorating, tidying and doing general odd jobs as required.

Not being a ‘frontline’ service, but working to make improvements for patients, our team at the Clinical Networks feel it is important to understand the patients’ perspective and to consider their needs as we carry out our work.

This pledge from my colleague Toni Hunt, a Network Delivery Lead, sums up this ethos perfectly: “To ensure patients are at the forefront of my mind when taking projects forward”. I will certainly sign up to that one.

Sometimes the best people to ensure patients are at the forefront of our minds are the patients themselves, and the groups and third sector organisations that represent them. There have been some fabulous pledges from charities and other organisations outside the NHS, committing to support us in our roles.

Helen Clarke of Carers UK has pledged “to help NHS England staff and services understand their role in identifying, supporting and signposting carers to support”. We should not forget the wonderful and indispensable role carers play for our patients, and they certainly need looking after too.

The charity Parkinson’s UK is asking all NHS staff who work with people with Parkinson’s to make the following pledge: “I pledge to ask my patients with Parkinson’s what one thing I can do today to help them take control – and make it happen”.

For patients who feel vulnerable and not in control of what is happening to them, the simple act of giving them a choice and asking their opinion can make a huge difference.

Helen Sadler of Monkey Wellbeing, who created the loveable character of Monkey to help her daughter as she underwent extensive hospital treatment as a toddler, has made a pledge on behalf of her cuddly friend: “Monkey promises to support children and their families as they face hospital procedures. Preparation is the key”. The range of fun picture books and other resources featuring Monkey, now being widely used by children’s hospitals to help prepare little ones for frightening hospital visits, shows the effectiveness of understanding the needs of young patients.

As Change Day comes and goes, there is a very real sense that the initiatives and promises being acted upon now will continue into the future, for the long term benefit of NHS staff and patients alike. In what is undeniably a tough climate for those of us working to make improvements in the health service, the spirit of collaboration and the resolve to do things better is a sure sign that NHS staff are not ready to roll over and give up just yet. And we don’t plan to.

With the valued support of third sector organisations, the increasing involvement of patients themselves, and the renewed determination of staff to no longer accept things the way they are, we could be entering a bright new age for the NHS. There may be a veritable mountain to climb in some respects, but each successful ascent starts with a first step and a strong team to make it happen.

See you all at the top.

It’s not too late to make your Change Day pledge! Do it now

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Change Day – the movement rolls on

Jenny Hicken

Jenny Hicken is a Network Delivery Facilitator in the Northern England Clinical Networks, and is part of the Mental Health and Dementia Network team.

She is currently working on projects addressing the wellbeing of vulnerable groups, and represents the Network team on the North East and North Cumbria ICS Zero Suicide Ambition Steering Group. She also keeps a hand in with the Maternity Network team, with whom she has worked closely on a number of pieces of work.

Jenny lives in Newcastle upon Tyne with her husband and two young sons, and has worked in the NHS since 2009.

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