Uniting the science and clinical practice to improve patient care

Celia introduces the topic of clinical improvement and discusses how it affects changes in the NHS

Celia Ingham Clark, interim NHS national director of patient safety, NHS Improvement

Improvement science is about putting evidence into practice. We rely on it to identify how we can improve and make sustainable changes in the most effective way.  

NHS Improvement is responsible for a number of programmes which assist and support organisations, teams and individuals to apply improvement science in the NHS.

Some programme examples include the Maternal and neonatal health safety collaborative; the Patient safety collaboratives with the 15 Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs); and the part-funded Q initiative with the Health Foundation.

Improvement science also mandates we review periodically the evidence available and the best practices that work, to facilitate quality improvements in the NHS.

I would like to highlight two examples, where putting evidence into practice has resulted in substantial improvements in the quality of patient care.

Electronic early recognition

We know that quickly recognising when a patient’s condition is deteriorating is important. It can prompt treatment that could improve their chances of survival and maybe even help them to achieve a full recovery.

Recording patients’ pulse and blood pressure on paper has been linked to delays in identifying when they are deteriorating.

This led Portsmouth Hospital and Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital to introduce an Electronic physiological surveillance system, where pulse, blood pressure and basic measurements were recorded electronically.

Between the two hospitals, over the test period, it was estimated the electronic method of recording vital signs, supported recovery for 769 patients.

Safer prescribing

The PINCER programme in Nottingham, introduced an IT system to search local GP records and highlight patients at-risk of harm from their prescribed medications.

Led by pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, the programme was rolled out to more than 360 GP practices across the East Midlands.

In a sample, the programme led to 1,900 patients being identified, with action taken to change the medication they had been prescribed.

I hope that by telling more people about improvement science tools, we can help NHS staff make sustainable, evidence-based changes which could easily raise the quality of patient care.

Celia Ingham Clark, medical director for clinical effectiveness, national medical directorate, NHS England, and interim NHS national director of patient safety, NHS Improvement
Tags: NHS Improvement, evidence-based changes, quality patient care, science tools, NICE conference

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