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We all have the chance to make someone’s day

The Chief Nursing Officer for England previews #ExpofCare week:

Thanks to a seemingly innocuous splinter in my finger, a few weeks ago I found myself as a patient in Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital A&E.

I had a very positive experience there, which reminded me of how important things like good communication and the ability of staff to provide reassurance are. It also reminded me of how vulnerable we feel as patients – and how all staff in the NHS have the power to deliver a positive patient experience to reduce the potential for anxiety and essentially to ‘make someone’s day’.

We all know quality is about clinical outcomes and safety, and of course these things are crucially important; however, experience of care is a key component of the ‘quality triangle’ and paying attention to what patients are saying can give us an indication of what might happen in terms of those other areas, safety and clinical outcomes.

I am committed to ensuring experience of care is a key component of all our improvement programmes, building on the Always Event programme and work to embed the principles of co-production.

I met with staff and the Chief Nurse from Hounslow and Richmond Community Health Care NHS Trust last week, who told me about their work as part of the Always Event Improvement Programme which really embodies the spirit of #ExpofCare week.

#ExpofCare week provides us with an opportunity to shine a light on all the fantastic work happening to really improve the experience of patients, carers and families. We know that lots of this is happening in partnership with local communities and with support from some of our wonderful NHS Volunteers – and this week provides a fabulous platform to demonstrate ingenuity and creativity.

In addition to patients’ experience of care, this week will feature activities focussing on staff experience too, because we know if staff feel supported and valued they are better able to support and value patients.

So, there is lots going on. Nationally there will be twitter chats and webinars on issues such as using WhatsApp to engage young people, co-production and building the evidence base. There will also be #ExpofCare events around the country, among them a Youth Voice Summit this week in London.

@WeCommunities are helping drive the campaign through social media, using the hashtag #ExpofCare to capture tweets or key messages about what people are doing.  In addition there are some really colourful, fun graphics to help all of us share and promote our own experience of care.

This year Experience of Care Week falls within the Easter week – as we know there are huge numbers of staff who deliver care 24/7 so we are supporting trusts to deliver activities to involve all staff, whatever their shift. We also need to acknowledge patients come into our care and therefore experience services all the time.

Working in the NHS, #ExpofCare week truly is a team effort. I hope you will be able to use this opportunity to celebrate all the fabulous work you are seeing and doing, to improve the experience of all our patients and colleagues in the NHS.

Ruth May

Ruth is the Chief Nursing Officer for England and an executive/national director at NHS England and NHS Improvement. She is also the national director responsible for infection prevention and control.

Ruth was appointed following her roles as Executive Director of Nursing at NHS Improvement, which commenced in April 2016, and Director of Nursing at Monitor, the healthcare sector regulator.

Prior to joining Monitor, she was Regional Chief Nurse and Nurse Director for the Midlands and East region of NHS England, where she championed the ‘Stop the Pressure’ campaign, which nearly halved the number of pressure ulcers in the region, improving care for patients, as well as delivering cost savings to the NHS.

Ruth is passionate about nurturing the next generation of NHS nursing, midwifery and AHP leaders, encouraging professional development opportunities and working across the health system to put in place the optimal cultural conditions for all NHS employees to thrive. This includes advocating for improved mental health awareness in the workplace, championing volunteer activity to support the frontline workforce and being a vocal supporter of the WRES agenda and increased diversity across the NHS.

Ruth began her career with a variety of nursing roles before becoming a theatre sister at Frimley Park Hospital. She was Acting Director of Nursing at Barnet Hospital before being appointed the substantive Director of Nursing and Deputy Chief Executive with Havering Primary Care Trust.

In October 2005, she became Chief Executive of The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn, a post she held for two years. She has also been Chief Executive of Mid-Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust.

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