25 September 2020
One hospital, one mission: what COVID-19 has taught me.

Jane Westhead

Author: Jane Westhead, Clinical Lead for Innovation, Medway Innovation Institute | Matron, Critical Care

Reflecting on the past months, I am so proud of my team’s adaptability, resilience and camaraderie throughout COVID-19. But one thing that has really stood out and inspired me during our teams most challenging time, is the drive for continuing improvement for our patients and staff.

I saw a wave of innovative ideas coming from the ‘shop floor’, such as developing educational flashcards for redeployed staff, using technology to provide video calls to families in the absence of visiting and implementing visual checklists to ensure our escalation areas were standardised and safe.  It amazed me that even during the most challenging period staff have faced in their careers to date, with physical and mental exhaustion, fear and anxiety, my colleagues still strived to improve quality.

There was genuine teamwork, local ownership of ideas for improvement and valued contributions from the very staff at the heart of the changes. Staff pulled together like never before, we became one, with softened hierarchy and ideas put forward from a wide range of staff groups at differing levels and variety of experience.

If I’ve learnt anything it’s that our staff know what is needed, have the best ideas and have the ability to put these ideas into rapid action. Top down directives don’t allow staff to take ownership or exude pride in the project. Going forward I really want us to hold on to and nurture this new way of working, to empower staff, give everyone a voice and continue boosting the pride of our services and workplace we appeared to gain during the pandemic.

The Medway Innovation Institute will allow us to do just that, opening doors and enabling staff to take their improvement ideas forward, with support, guidance and access to expert coaches and QI tools and approaches. I am so thrilled, and proud to have been appointed Clinical Lead within the institute, and I can’t wait to hear all of the excellent ideas for quality improvement that COVID-19 has proven are out there within our teams. I couldn’t be more excited for MFT’s future.

If you have an innovative idea or would like to find out more about the work that we are doing at the Medway Innovation Institute please do get in touch by emailing me jane.westhead1@nhs.net or the team using medwayft.innovationinstitute@nhs.net.


1 Comment

  1. Jenny Chong

    Jane, you have put it so eloquently. The staff on the “shop floor” – who do the job tirelessly – they are best placed to know what does or doesn’t work; what improvements will genuinely improve the patient experience and safety.

    Thank you for encouraging them to make a difference. As managers and the Institute, we play a supporting role: Let them explore innovative solutions with minimal bureacracy, empowering them to do what they do best and deliver the best of care.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *