Innovative approach to improving patient safety put NHS in the world spotlight

Posted on 27 March 2019 (Permalink)

“Positive reinforcement is not always valued in the NHS and community care, we tend to look at what’s gone wrong – rather than what’s gone right – to boost staff morale improve patient safety. Appreciative Inquiry turns that notion on its head to affect real change and is already showing great results in healthcare”.

Helen Hunt, Patient Safety Assistant Programme Manager at West Midlands Academic Health Science Network, took this innovative approach to healthcare onto the world stage for the very first time.

Helen is one of a team of speakers who delivered a keynote speech on, “Prospecting for the Positive – What matters and what gives life; Finding Everyday Excellence” to the World Appreciative Inquiry Conference in Nice last week. Despite the conference being in its fourth year, this is the first time the spotlight has been on healthcare.

Appreciative Inquiry focusses on strengths and areas organisations are good at, rather than weaknesses, to create sustainable change and development.

Helen has been championing AI through her role at the WMAHSN since 2016. She’ll be joined on stage by Emma Plunkett, consultant anaesthetist at University Hospitals Birmingham, Suzanne Quinney director of Appreciating People, and Belinda Dwyer Professor of Practice Improvement at the Institute of Health Care Policy and Practice at the University of the West of Scotland.

“I’m honoured to be discussing these techniques in healthcare development and improvement for the first time at the conference and being able to demonstrate real impact”

“Even the smallest gesture can make a huge difference to morale and subsequently working practices – we heard a great report recently about a team member who made tea for nurses in advance of a handover meeting. This helped to bond the team and make meetings more open and productive. At the other end of the scale, Walsall’s Ash Grange Nursing Home was able to turn around its fortunes thanks to AI; the care home was rated as inadequate overall by the Care Quality Commission in 2017 but AI gave staff the boost to turn around their fortunes, with the home now rated good in both Safe and Effective categories.”

Helen and Emma - through their work with AI and the West Midlands-based initiative, Learning from Excellence - are already winners of a prestigious HJS Patient Safety Award; the judges described the technique as a truly innovative approach that, “has the ability to transform the way we improve patient safety. This should be considered for national rollout both from patient safety and staff morale”.

Learning from Excellence supports the safety culture in more than 123 hospitals worldwide – 114 of them in the UK.