Posted on: 22 December 2023

The CNWL Quality Improvement Programme reached it’s sixth 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. 

Alison Butler -Thumbnail image.pngWe 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

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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! 

QI birthday celebration

Alison butler, Dr Con Kelly, the QI Team and members of The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (CNWL’s strategic QI partners) marked the celebration with a cake.

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Qi Birthday 6 years cake.jpg