Back in the early part of the noughties, I was a senior civil servant. We had a big debate about where we should focus policy after putting huge increases in staff and funding into the NHS. The answer? “Quality”. We have been improving quality, in broad terms, since – through National Service Frameworks, Cancer Improving Outcomes Guidance, higher satisfaction….
Yet we still have catastrophic failures in some organisations and, in my view, we are still often missing the point on quality. Quality is personal. It’s about the right care for me. Care that is clinically effective, safe and delivers the experience I want. Which is probably less lavish or demanding than we all fear…
“What does high quality care mean to you” It is a question we ask every new starter at LCH NHS Trust. You can see some of the answers in our gallery here or watch a video here.
It’s a question that the NHS England Consultation on the future of services “The NHS Belongs to the People” a call to action, needs to ask…..and we need to listen carefully to the answer.
It’s a question that we need to get right, and get the right people to ask too. Last week, our trust members interviewed consultant paediatricians. Junior staff members, parents and children interviewing doctors and having a real say in their appointment. The world has changed! We have done the same with senior managers and consultants in rehab too.Our members are also engaged in driving quality through assessments of care environments, service improvement programmes and communication tests. Every one of them has something to offer and a view on quality. Want to join them? You can become a member here.
What does high quality mean to me? Well, I expect well trained staff, working in a team, supported by the best clinical evidence base in the world. Better IT and more convenience would be nice. kindness too. A recognition that I have a life and services are a guest in it. Above all, I want to be seen as an asset, not a disease or an issue. Because I reckon the NHS will need me to look after myself much more in the future…..and everyone else too.
In an era of austerity, we should keep that focus. Because quality can be better, simpler and more cost effective. ……and if we engage people in the question, and delivering the services that result from the answer, we will have a chance of succeeding. That I hope will be one of the conclusions of the NHS England Consultation.
A quick bonus – here is my favourite short video of the last year. It is all about quality. What’s the best thing about your care? “Being able to shave my own legs.” Fabulous words from Vicky in praise of Suzanne Henshall and the OT team.