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Can the NHS learn from schools?

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Acute, Primary care

We are about to have a new cohort of fast streamers joining DH for six months.  All our generalist fast streamers are offered the opportunity to spend some time connecting – here’s what Philip Bray, currently workforce strategy policy lead, said about his recent time at North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust.

It was an utterly fascinating day. I talked to and watched a range of obviously very skilled staff – from consultants to junior doctors to advanced nurse practitioners to physiotherapists and occupational therapists. I got to witness their admirable patience with and care for an obstructive and incredibly rude patient, the potential impact (and side effects) of trying to make the whole system paperless, the benefits of establishing links between local primary care and secondary centres like North Middlesex as well as the day-to-day lives and to-do lists of staff.

I took away two key learning points as well as an (even more valuable) beginner’s awareness of what working in an NHS hospital is like. Firstly, that health professionals are almost without exception passionate about healthcare and ensuring their patients get the best possible outcomes but they don’t necessarily know a lot about (or want to know a lot about) how the entire system works. DH, NHSI and CQC were all just part of ‘the system’ rather than having distinct roles and responsibilities. Knowing what DH do isn’t (and quite possibly shouldn’t be) part of delivering high quality healthcare.

Secondly, I saw some outstandingly creative practice such as a very high quality IT system for patient flow and a brilliantly effective consultant on the end of a phone line for GPs for them to ask advice of regarding referrals. However, when I asked about how this compared to other Trusts, to other hospitals, I got questioning looks. The NHS is full of incredible innovators but it is also siloed. This surprised me – I come from a teaching background where staff rooms are filled with “I’ve heard this school is doing this” and headteachers and teachers are constantly and openly stealing ideas from each other. Food for thought!

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