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Listening to staff can drive healthcare innovation

Tagged In:  Allied Health, Nursing

Now formally accredited for its Listening into Action scheme, Gloucestershire is just one of many NHS trusts supporting staff-led innovations to transform healthcare.

It's often been said that the best workplace innovations are inspired by the knowledge and experience of frontline staff. Nowhere is this more relevant than in healthcare, where ideas and input from nurses, doctors and allied health professionals can be crucial in the development of new equipment, techniques and models of care.

Over the last 10 years, many NHS trusts have made good use of the thought-leading Listening into Action (LiA) approach to encourage staff to come up with innovative ideas to improve care. They include Gloucestershire Care Services (GCS), which has recently become the first community provider to receive formal accreditation for its use of the programme.

Since 2013, LiA has helped GCS develop a number of staff-led initiatives, including providing support for carers at community hospitals and venues, new standards for end-of-life care, a redesign of complex care for children using parent feedback and a new system to give community nurses and therapists more time with patients.

On Merseyside, cancer patients are benefitting from an innovative service which has cut waiting times and simplified the appointment process. The idea of a 'rapid chemotherapy' chair was thought up by nurses on the Delamere Ward Day Case Unit at the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre. Patients receive oral chemotherapy and sub-cutaneous treatments while sitting in a chair in a purpose-built area of the ward. Clatterbridge nurses have also pioneered an 'at home' cancer treatment service for oral and intravenous treatments.

Funding for staff-led innovation is available from a variety of sources. Since 1990 the Queen's Nursing Institute has supported hundreds of nurse-led projects, helping community nurses deliver improvements in patient care. Projects have been funded across the full range of community nursing specialities, including dementia care, long-term conditions, mental health, palliative care and substance misuse.

In the field of children's nursing, Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity aims to improve the quality of care for seriously ill children and young people through its Marvellous Nurse Inventing Room, supported by the Burdett Trust for Nursing. It's currently funding 12 projects, including an initiative to improve epilepsy services, a study of children living with platelet function disorder and a 'superhero kit' to help children with arthritis deal more positively with regular painful injections.

Encouraging staff-led innovation isn't just about improving patient care. It's about making employees' voices heard. Trusts that have implemented the Listening into Action programme have reported a 120% improvement in staff feeling engaged and valued within 12 months.

Supporting innovation across the healthcare system is a key enabler of the Five Year Forward View for NHS England. Drawing on the practical knowledge and expertise of frontline health professionals to drive that innovation makes a lot of sense.

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