Posted on: 27 December 2023

Happy New Year to all our readers! 

As we move forward into the new year, we start with a review of what the Improvement Academy has achieved for CNWL over the past year.  Director of Improvement, Alison Butler also reflects on how working with the Academy in 2024 can help you to make the extraordinary happen in your service!

Also in this issue, you will find a roundup of the latest news and training opportunities.

Reflections on CNWL’s Improvement Journey 2023 with Alison Butler, Director of Improvement


The CNWL Quality Improvement Programme reached it’s 6th birthday in November 2023 and the new year always brings time to reflect on the past, but also to look forwards to what we might expect.

We caught up with Alison Butler, Director of Improvement to chat about the Improvement Academy (IA) and why the academy is important to every CNWL staff member, patient and carer.

As we conclude our sixth year of improvement in CNWL, what do you think we should be most proud of?

There is a great deal to be proud of, so there isn’t a short answer to that question! 

Our expert by experience involvement, our growing reputation externally; our work to spread improvement success around the Trust; our first-class training programme and the annual celebration of improvement in the CNWL safety conversation are all worth being proud of.

The first Expert by Experience (EbE) Celebration event in June last year brought together over 40 of our service user and carer partners and our Chair, Tom Kibasi, to discuss, reflect and celebrate achieving our goal to have 82% of active QI projects with meaningful co-production.  That is an amazing 78% increase on the figure in 2022!

CNWL’s reputation for excellence in the field of improvement work has continued to grow both nationally and internationally.  The roll-call of conferences and forums that want CNWL to come and present our work keeps growing and in 2023, our improvement stories have been heard at the Health Service Journal Awards; Bristol Patient Safety Conference; IHI/BMJ International Forum on Quality & Safety in Healthcare, Copenhagen; NHS England Co-Production Week and Royal College of Psychiatrists Annual Improvement Conference.  Sharing our work externally has really confirmed CNWL as a key player in improvement and our reputation certainly helps us to attract and retain staff who want to work in a successful NHS Trust.

Much of the improvement work in CNWL is aligned to the Trust Strategy (view here) and the past year has seen the development of our work to spread change that has been proven to create improvement.  Strategic programmes of work in Psychiatric Services, Children and Adolescent Mental Health and Mental Health Flow have born a new word in our vocabulary of improvement; the word Spreadathon has become the way we describe programmes to spread good work around CNWL!

The IA Education Programme goes from strength to strength and we have built on our attention to building capability amongst our senior leaders with a continued Management Fundamentals development programme complimented by a new level of QI training aimed at equipping senior leaders with the skills and knowledge to act as effective sponsors to improvement teams.  By the end of 2023, the education programme has trained over 3,400 CNWL staff.  And we have now started to deliver our training to our strategic partners, which is really exciting!  You can view the education programme here.

And we cannot miss being proud of how improvement work has featured in the annual CNWL Safety Conversation!  460 staff, service users and carers saw over 140 posters submitted and 10 improvement awards made for an impressive and wide-ranging experience on the day.  You can view the roundup of the day here.

Reflecting on 2023, what would you say are the best reasons for staff to engage with the Improvement Academy into 2024?

The IA supports you to continue improving your services and will encourage you to get started.  Our Academy provides you with access to CPD accredited levels of training in how to make improvement; from awareness of the Model for Improvement through to managing a QI project and acting as an Improvement Sponsor or Coach.  The training levels build your knowledge and confidence to make improvement happen.

I also believe that engaging with the IA helps you to ensure that your precious time can be used in the most impactful way possible.  The Academy provides improvement coaching within weekly QI clinics and direct coaching within any of the strategically led Improvement Collaborative Programmes.  A coach’s role is to help you get the most out of your improvement work and keep you focused on using the model for improvement.

The IA also provides opportunities to get your improvement work recognised.  We encourage and support project teams to develop improvement posters and to apply to present work at conferences, including the CNWL Safety Conversation.  We can help you get your work celebrated and to share your expertise within and outside CNWL.

Visit the IA Webpages for full information on training levels, coaching and lots of resources/tools for doing improvement work.

What is the one thing that QI has taught you in 2023?

The impact of using the model for improvement (based on three questions and a cycle for testing change) is truly astounding.  I am constantly amazed by what can be achieved when we involve our Experts by Experience and every second of our time we save leads to greater capacity to care for and treat our patients.

What are your hopes for QI in CNWL during the year ahead?

The new year will start to bring the conclusion of our first improvement spreadathons and I am really looking forward to seeing the learning from this new approach to improving our services.

There are also some exciting prospects to use improvement methodologies to further our green agenda and help the transformational change that digitisation technology may bring.

But my biggest hope is to continue to share our improvement work with the world external to CNWL.  We have so much to look forward to in 2024!

Celebrating Success – articles from around CNWL

Westminster Joint Homelessness Team Quality Improvement Project Success

The Joint Homelessness Team (JHT) in Westminster have run a series of Quality Improvement projects to improve physical health monitoring for their patients.

This work forms part of a series of improvement projects on physical health that the team have planned and follows on from a successful project poster presented at the Royal College of Psychiatrists International Congress 2022.

Read the full story here.

CNWL holds its annual Safety Conversation Day for staff

Today CNWL hosted it’s fourth Safety Conversation Day for staff, led by the Trust’s Safety Team and sponsored by the Trust’s Improvement Academy.

The virtual event, hosted by Dr Cornelius Kelly, CNWL’s Chief Medical Officer, and Maria O’Brien, Chief Nurse, brings together staff to discuss a range of safety topics. This year’s topics included the patient and carer voice, compassionate engagement and psychological safety, as well as learning from incident investigations and getting the basics right.

During the day staff present their quality improvement projects and share best practice. 

This year we received 142 entries to the Improvement Awards. You can view all the poster entries on our Improvement Academy website here.  Congratulations to all!

Read the full story and find out who won the coveted Improvement Awards, click here.

Reducing Section 136 delays for patients referred from A&E

The Hillingdon Psychiatric Liaison Team has reduced the time taken from a patient’s arrival in A&E to their onward referral for a mental health assessment by 56 percent after conducting a quality improvement project.

Read the full story here.

Developing a Successful Crisis Team Teaching Programme using QI methodologies

The Kensington and Chelsea Home Treatment Team (HTT) shared their successes and learning on producing a teaching programme for their multi-disciplinary team at an annual forum for Home Treatment Teams hosted by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

The aim of the quality improvement (QI) project was to increase knowledge, awareness and confidence for staff in the team. To do this, they set the objective to produce regular teaching sessions that are specific to the HTT and have a multi-disciplinary focus.

The team put together Plan, do, study, act (PDSA) cycles, a process where teams can test the waters to see how their ideas will work in a real-life health setting. One of the PDSA cycles are below: 

There has been an array of sessions delivered for the team based on patient feedback; highlights of the sessions are below:

Read more here.

Dr. Mehtab Ghazi Rahman appointed CNWL’s Quality Improvement Clinical Lead

We are excited to announce that Dr. Mehtab Ghazi Rahman will take up the quality improvement role alongside his work as a consultant psychiatrist and the responsible clinician for CNWL’s Nile Ward at St. Charles Mental Health Unit in London.

Prior to this, Dr Rahman served as the Trust-wide Physical Health Lead in Mental Health Services, directing projects to enhance the physical health of patients with serious mental disorders across CNWL.

Read a full welcome article here.

We wish Mehtab every success in his new role!

Changes in the QI Team

The QI Team are going through a short period of changes to the faces in the team.  Bridget Browne has taken up a year-long secondment to the Jameson Business Transformation and Partnerships Team.

And we welcome Dr Isaac Obeng into the Improvement Advisor role working with Jameson Division for the next twelve months.  Isaac may be familiar to many staff as he has been an active Improvement Coach within the QI Team for a year already.  Best wishes to Isaac in his new role!

Expert by Experience Forum

We are proud that across CNWL, we are maintaining an extremely high proportion of active QI projects with a formed project team having logged service user and carer involvement on Life QI.  The latest data for December 2023 shows a rate of 86% of projects having meaningful Expert by Experience involvement.

Experts-by-Experience Forum - Would you like support to involve Service Users and Carers in your improvement work?

The Quality Improvement and Involvement Teams facilitate a collaborative working group called the Expert-by-Experience (EbE) Improvement Forum. This group comprises of service users and carers who have used CNWL services and are passionate about improving services.

Our EbE forum members bring unique perspectives and insights to your improvement work which help ensure that your improvement work is going to be meaningful and have the best impact for those who use your service.

These forums are held every five weeks via Zoom. The three available slots for each forum are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis and are as follows:

•            12 February 2024 from 1:30-3pm (20 mins slot per team)

•            18 March 2024 from 1:30-3pm (20 mins slot per team)

Interested teams can book one of the three available 20-minute slots by contacting the QI team via

Upcoming Training Opportunities - building your QI knowledge

The Improvement Academy offers a full education programme open to anyone in CNWL and any service user or carer who is actively working with a QI project team in CNWL.

Level 1 Bronze QI Training - Bitesize QI 

Continues monthly as a half day virtual session to explore the Model for Improvement.  We wish to encourage staff at Band 3/4 to take up this training as these colleagues are less represented in staff who access Bitesize QI.

To book your place go to LDZ and search/look for Level 1 Bitesize QI Training to enrol and book a training date suitable for you. 

The next available training days are: 10 January, 13 February and 12 March 2024, with each training sessions runs 9.30am to 1.00pm.

Level 2: Silver QI Training – How to run a QI Project

Level 2 QI Training is a 4-month training programme that is aimed at staff who want to run a quality improvement (QI) project.  The course will deepen understanding of using improvement methodologies and tools and help staff to develop skills to successfully run a QI project. The course is a virtual workshop-based programme, delivered over 4 months with formal training and access to QI coaching. 

The next cohort will commence in April 2024 and applications will open in Spring 2024.  

Level 3 Leading Improvement for Senior Leaders

Are you a Senior Leader who wants to lead improvement of your services and adopt an improvement approach to your role? Do you want to know how to sponsor teams doing QI projects? If so, then this is the course for you.  

This workshop-based training is aimed at Senior Leaders (Band 8a and above). This course offers training and tools to help Senior Leaders to; adopt an improvement approach to their day to day work, sponsor an improvement project and support teams to use an improvement approach. 

The next cohort of Level 3 training will be open in 2024.  Look out for announcements on CNWL Weekly Bulletin and on the Improvement Academy X social media account.

All QI training provided by the Improvement Academy can be booked via LDZ here:

For full information and resources relating to QI in CNWL, visit the Improvement Academy website at:


The QI Clinic is here to support your improvement ideas:

Book time with us today to discuss

Any CNWL team who would like help with any aspect of their QI project can book into a QI clinic.

To book, send a request stating your preferred date and time to and we shall confirm back to you with a diary invite and link to your QI clinic slot.

We look forward to speaking with you!

Useful Links

Contact information

Head of QI

Geetika Singh

Improvement Advisors:

Diggory Division

Peter Toohey

Goodall Division and Corporate

Peter Smith

Jameson Division

Isaac Obeng

CNWL Improvement Academy Microsite:          

Life QI:                                                   

If you want to get in touch please contact us here:

and follow us on twitter by clicking @CNWLImprovement.