Making care safer for patients – the North West London way!


Melissa Rochon. Harefield Hospital, 12/4/17

Melissa Rochon, Quality & Safety Lead for Surveillance at the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, blogs for us about the two awards her team and Trust won at the 2017 HSJ Patient Safety Awards, and how ICHP helped her  to create the winning submissions…

Entering the HSJ Awards felt like a long shot – a great idea to promote our projects on a national platform – but a long shot. It wasn’t that the initiatives weren’t making a difference to our patients, they were! It was more that the prestige of the event and the calibre of the previous winners was well, a little bit intimidating. The HSJ awards are not specific to a certain professional group, entrants are multidisciplinary, cross-organisational and with many teams working across more than one sector…

 More than a bit intimidating.

 But, as anyone who as ever applied for an award will tell you: just get the application in.

 Pressing ahead, I tried hard to 1) keep it simple, remembering feedback from a past interview (*) that sometimes, as the ‘expert’ on the project, I get caught up in the details, when what is needed is the big picture: how are you improving patient safety? I am a fan of my colleague’s husband’s approach: make it easy for the people who are meant to be reading it.  Spend time on the structure and flow. Re-read your work and remove the sentence that you think is the most eloquent – it probably is more purple prose than much else; 2) demonstrate quality improvement methodology and outcomes to show that we were making a difference for our patients– I did the ICHP/Buckinghamshire New University innovation course and can’t recommend it highly enough! and 3) include a clear economic assessment (EA). The OPM Group provided great sessions on the course on how to disentangle your ‘cost avoidance’ from your ‘cost savings’.

Getting shortlisted

I think my colleagues and I may have done a happy dance when we were shortlisted in two categories, Infection Prevention and Best Public Innovation/Product.

Normally I would have got on with preparing the presentations, trying to squeeze in as many details as possible. Thankfully, my lovely Lead for Clinical Risk Libby Haxby put me in touch with Kenny Ajayi, Programme Lead for Patient Safety at ICHP. With Kenny’s steer, we were able to set the projects into context – as Prof Brigg points out, we are facing a perfect storm of ever-increasing demand against the pressures of austerity. Sure, you can achieve a lot with a big budget, but our project to help healing and comfort after surgery had a budget of £200. Our other project, the Photo at Discharge (PaD) demonstrates a significant reduction in non-elective readmission for surgical site infection(SSI) –   an example of how infection prevention strategies can and should play into the NHS England and Getting It Right The First Time programmes.

Kenny also reminded us to bring our patients experience and voice to the judging panel -this is more than the data that shows the impact, this is about the person who you are taking action for, how are you trying to reduce the worry or fear for your patients and their carers?  Our projects came about because our patients told us they needed a better solution and our patients helped to shape the solution for their care.

After phone conversations and emails (I stopped short of putting Kenny in my pocket on the day of presentations), we went in and presented to judges. And just as I expected, the judges were the leaders in the field and the other teams were as impressive as they come. SSI are an important quality metric to patients, clinicians and hospital and it was wonderful to see Lilian Chiwera from GSST championing patient safety in surgical site infections (SSI) reduction. It became less intimidating and more like a network of people excited about bringing about improvement.

National platform

In the end, the HSJ Awards did provide us with an amazing national platform to showcase our initiatives as well join the broader quality improvement community. We celebrated our success of a double win for the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, starting on the dance floor that night – much like the happy dance on being shortlisted, but this time with the video highlights of the 2017 event.

More information

If you would like to find out more about the Photo at Discharge see our outline on the NICE Sharing Database.

For details on our Patient Safety Award for Best Public Innovation or Product, the BHIS bra, support wear for females following cardiac surgery, read this article.

*I didn’t get the job after that interview. But I did get an amazing role as the Quality and Safety Lead for the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, working with amazing colleagues and wonderful patients to reduce the incidence of SSI