As the new Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Executive Director I’ve now been in post since February 1st. As I write this blog almost exactly 4 months since starting, Id like to use this opportunity to introduce myself to as many staff as possible, and share some of my initial thoughts.
Prior to starting in NHS Dumfries and Galloway I’d worked in a number of health boards. Initially working in NHS Lanarkshire, in critical care and advanced practice, I moved to NHS Ayrshire and Arran in 2007, initially as nurse consultant for the acutely unwell adult, moving on to senior nurse consultant then associate nurse director. During this period I also worked in NHS Orkney as associate nurse director for 8 months, learning about the challenges and rewards of working in a remote and rural setting. For the year prior to commencing in D&G I worked as the lead nurse for East Ayrshire Integrated Joint Board and Associate Nurse Director for Primary care and Community Nursing. I’ve been incredibly lucky in my career, supported and developed by truly inspirational staff throughout the years, and have maintained roles which have allowed for direct patient contact through most of my time in nursing. Working with patients and staff has always been a key priority for me- its why I started nursing.
This link to inspirational staff continues as I’ve moved to NHS Dumfries and Galloway. At the last Twitter conversation held by the Chief Nursing Officer, Professor Fiona McQueen, one of the questions posed was: – What are you most proud of in your current role? I didn’t hesitate in my answer. I spoke of the compassion I see and hear about everyday from the staff in NHS D&G. The value of compassion is clearly embedded throughout our teams, from the Board to the staff directly delivering care to our patients. The key attitude of compassion in our delivery of care is reflected in the shared behaviours and attitudes I’ve seen in the last 4 months and is the springboard for the excellence in care we all strive for. Of course we aren’t perfect, but on the whole, compassion is being displayed. What I would ask everyone is this- are we compassionate to each other? Are you compassionate to yourself? The organisation is in a period of unprecedented change as we join an integrated world and build a new hospital. D&G couldn’t do just one major change at a time! The financial challenge is more acute than ever as we try to do the same, or even more, with less. If we are not compassionate towards ourselves and each other we may find ourselves overwhelmed and begin to lose touch with the reasons we all came into health care? Something to think about.
We often speak of our challenges, but clearly this period brings significant opportunities. I believe that each team hold the answers to most problems within their areas. The ability to adapt and innovate, to find solutions to complex problems, lie within the gift of all of our teams. If empowerment of staff is to truly have meaning then the staff have to feel empowered to enact change. The application of quality improvement methodology and an understanding of the theories of profound knowledge are the survival tools of the 21st century health care team. I have spoken to staff around our areas about the need for innovation and commonly say “The answer is in the room” It usually is. Someone within the area has the exact answer to the problem. If all staff members can see that improvement is something they do rather than have done to them, combined with the skills and understanding of the science of improvement, we can absolutely change the landscape we all work in.
Speaking to senior nursing, midwifery and AHP staff I have been incredibly impressed with the projects and ideas being developed, and in many areas there is great work being done in one key area: patient experience and satisfaction. For many years patient experience and satisfaction have been placed in the ‘nice to do’ category of work. As we move forward it is clear that the patient experiences of our systems are key to understanding how effective we are. There are many great local examples of this, from such areas as mental health, critical care, occupational therapy and medicine, but we haven’t yet shown our ability to do this at scale and share our learning across the entire organisation. I’m confident we will, following the discussions I’ve had with various teams, but it’s not something we can do without anymore. We look at, and report on, complaints as they come in and use them to look at individual areas of improvement, however, working in Scotland, we don’t spend any time looking at compliments and positive feedback. If we can capture the learning points from the good and bad episodes of the patient experience we can gain a better understanding of the impact we have in a balanced way.
I feel honoured to be Executive Director for Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions within NHS Dumfries and Galloway. Everywhere I look I see staff members that are committed to the care and well being of their patients and who place the person at the heart of everything they do. We have challenges and opportunities ahead of us and I’m absolutely convinced we can shape the future of our services together to meet the needs of our patients and improve the health of our communities.
Eddie Docherty is Director of Nursing at NHS Dumfries and Galloway