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05.07.18

Three NHS Tayside doctors have recently graduated from a national healthcare quality improvement programme.

The Scottish Quality and Safety Fellowship (SQSF) is a one-year programme of distance learning, coaching and residential seminars to develop quality improvement and leadership skills.

Consultant physician in medicine for the elderly (MfE) Dr Dirk Habicht, consultant in MfE and stroke Dr Matt Lambert and specialty registrar in paediatrics Dr Lauren Shaw, took part in the 10th cohort of the Fellowship.

All fellows run a quality improvement project at their place of work, applying the skills learned and bringing back challenges to share learning with the group. 

Dr Habicht, who is based at Perth Royal Infirmary, said, “For me the fellowship has given me the confidence and skills to apply quality improvement and leadership here in NHS Tayside.  It has given me understanding of how complex systems work and what I can do to influence and bring change to that system.

“Through the fellowship I was also able to meet and connect with leaders in healthcare, on a national and international level.

“My project focused on daily dynamic discharge in ward 3 and by focusing the team on the discharge process we reduced unnecessary delays for patients and increased flow significantly – this meant more beds were available for people requiring admission during periods of pressure such as the winter months.”

Dr Matt Lambert, who works at Ninewells and Royal Victoria Hospitals, added, “The programme has completely changed how I approach improving care for patients and making most efficient use of NHS resources, and since undertaking the fellowship I have led work which has resulted in improvements in care for patients following a stroke.

“Changes to the stroke pathway have significantly reduced the time patients wait for a CT scan, the time taken to be admitted to the stroke unit, the time for patients with an infarct to receive aspirin and the number of patients with stroke going to AMU which releases the time of staff there to care for other patients.

“I intend to keep up this work and use what I have learnt to help my own and other departments to improve care and reduce waste in NHS Tayside.”

Dr Lauren Shaw said, “The fellowship for me has been one of the most significant things I have done in my career.  It has completely changed the way I think about my individual practice and also that of my team and the wider system of the NHS. 

“I have learned a huge amount about how to work together for the greater good of the patient, their family and the service we are trying to provide.  

“Employing the quality improvement skills I have learned along with my team in the Unite project we have reduced the number of term born babies being admitted to the neonatal unit by 25% over a six month period.  It has been a huge success not only in keeping families together but also for team morale across neonatal and maternity care.  I hope to be able to build on and share these skills to help build the QI capacity within our health board.”

Over the last 10 years the SQSF has developed more than 200 fellows across Scotland and beyond, including fellows from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Canada, Denmark and Norway, The programme enhances individual capacity for leadership in patient safety and quality improvement.

NHS Tayside has 11 fellows, spanning many professions and specialties, including pharmacy, nursing and medical staff in MfE, acute medicine, emergency medicine, surgery and anaesthetics, who support the delivery of our goals and ambitions in relation to patient safety and quality improvement.

The national clinical lead for the Fellowship programme is Ninewells consultant in emergency medicine Dr Shobhan Thakore, a cohort 7 Fellow who is now helping shape the future of the Fellowship.