May 152014
Liz Smith

Liz Smith

There was something different about this year’s Quality Forum and it took me a poster tour to work out what it was.

As an abstract reviewer, when that 5 pm deadline in November looms and my inbox becomes full, I am always inspired by the number and variety of proposals people submit. The way these abstracts are written is important; they need to make people say, “Tell me more”.

And that’s the same with the sights and sounds you are bombarded with from all the stands at the Forum. They need to grab your attention and draw you in. They need to make you want to hear more.

This year, I agreed to host a number of the poster tours. These involve moving between posters stands and giving a few minutes to each presenter to share the work they came to display and discuss, and to take any questions. There had been thousands of submissions from people who wanted to share their work on a poster at the forum, and only 700 had been accepted.

Armed with my green, sponge, oversized hand (think “Gladiators”!), I began my first tour of the Forum. I was struck by the number of good pieces of work being shared. Presenters from all corners of the globe took to their posters and shared their experiences with pride. And I had many a proud moment hearing about work being done in Wales.

Many of the shared stories are still fresh with me, but there was one that really stood out and made me realise a cultural shift had taken place from even a year ago.

This was the story from some trainee medics (FY1s and FY2s) from the Midlands, who didn’t work together but shared the same rotation. They looked at improving the handover process after an adverse incident.

They established a new way of getting the communication between the different teams that was simpler and more efficient. It didn’t matter that they didn’t work together because they had made the system work for them. When they then moved on to work at other hospitals, they took this experience and their skills with them. Within six months, all of the rotation hospitals were using the same handover method, and a reduction in adverse effects could be measured and seen.

What stood out about this project was that they had initiated this work without any encouragement from leaders or management – they simply saw this as a piece of quality improvement work that needed to be done. It’s clear that a culture is growing in the future healthcare workforce, and I believe that with each new year of healthcare students becoming healthcare professionals we are seeing more people in our workforce who are inspired and driven to create real and lasting change.

Liz Smith is a National Programme Manager at 1000 Lives Improvement. Follow her on Twitter at @LizSimit

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