Academy clinical fellow frees up 25% more time for frontline care

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A project manager at a Surrey hospital trust, and former NHS Leadership Academy clinical fellow participant, freed-up an extra 25% of frontline patient care time in her trust, partly as a direct result of her learning on the Academy’s leadership programme.

Sally Greensmith, who works at Ashford and St Peter’s NHS Foundation Hospital Trust in Chertsey, Surrey, led the Releasing Time to Care project using a unique, trust-wide approach, across all wards over the two hospital sites. Eight ‘process modules’ were completed, and the changes implemented released an extra 15 minutes in every hour for direct, frontline patient care.

Sally and her team’s work even scooped a national Lean Healthcare Academy award, as much of the additional time was found by cutting-down and changing simple nursing tasks and processes on the ward by using a ‘Lean’ methodology.

A physiotherapist by background, Sally was on the 2011/12 cohort of the Academy’s clinical fellows programme – a scheme which was aimed at innovative clinicians from all areas of the NHS who wanted to lead change and improve services and patient care. The skills from receiving this postgraduate qualification – she says – were invaluable in helping her to understand how she operates as a leader, and how her behaviour and style may impact on others. Sally also said it helped her realise how she directly affects how individuals and teams perform in their roles.

“I was a line manager trying to do leadership, but now I understand how to work and behave as a leader,” Sally said.

“I realise and respect the impact my role has on teams across the hospital, and, in the case of our project on the wards, how my leadership has directly impacted on patient care.”

Sally also said her time on the clinical fellows programme helped with different communication and leadership styles needed for different people: “I would never have presented the project in terms of ‘lean methodologies’ on the wards, but instead we discussed simple ideas to cut-down time spent on routine jobs, and which could free up more time for care,” she said.

“Focusing on the ultimate goal of the project – to improve the quality of care we give to our patients – was vital to keep everyone engaged in what was a lengthy piece of work.”

The project Sally led – Releasing Time to Care – had the full support of the trust’s chief nurse, Suzanne Rankin, and looked at every day, routine nursing processes and tasks (for example, meal times and medicine rounds), and took ideas from nurses and healthcare assistants about how these could be improved. The result was frontline staff informing change in the organisation, for the benefit of their patients – but under Sally’s guidance – who felt able to lead such enormous change following her time on the Leadership Academy programme.

Suzanne has since thanked Sally for her leadership of the project, and is “thrilled with the huge improvements in direct patient care time and the positive impact that this is having on the quality of care delivered to our patients.”

“The clinical fellows programme allowed me to take time out of my busy, every day role; step back and see what needed doing to help me develop in my role of leader and project manager,” Sally continued.

“I was able to use this experience to share my learning with the ward teams, so helping them also to take a step back and improve patient care.”

Chris Lake, the NHS Leadership Academy’s head of professional development, said: “Sally really took what the clinical leadership fellowship had to offer and applied it. I saw her grow in confidence as a person, and in capability as a leader, through the programme.

“Her impact on frontline services, and in particular on patient care through skilled engagement of staff, is a model and a message to all.”

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