Not another audit/quality improvement project?! Um, actually yes, I’m afraid so. 

A few of you may have heard of the failings at Midstaffordshire NHS Trust  and the subsequent Francis report, even fewer will have read it (it makes a Charles Dickens novel feel like a short story before bed).  Despite its length it does deliver a clear message - that the ‘culture’ in Midstaffs and indeed the wider NHS needs to change. It is my belief that this can be done by encouraging innovation and building improvements from within.

People that work on the front line, be that in the canteen, in the league of friends shop, on the ward or at the bed side have a unique insight into the functionality of our hospital. They can see the inefficiencies – the nicks in the wool that if left will grow into a hole and join with others.

To harvest people’s ideas and enthusiasm is a productive way to help staff work with purpose and pride.  To combine this enthusiasm with the expertise required to make an idea a reality is a simple and easy way to bring change.  All too often people can become lost behind office doors when they are willing to apply their skills but are unaware of the problems that exist.

So what can we do? The Innovation Station was designed with 3 clear objectives:


  1. To provide a pathway whereby ideas from staff can be suggested and supported by senior hospital figures. 
  2. To develop a cross divisional network giving access to the people and skills required to drive through quality improvement projects.
  3. To increase the number of successfully completed quality improvement projects that will improve patient care and safety whilst promoting efficiency.

The method is simple; you see a problem, think of an idea to fix it, write it down and send it in. If invited to present your idea you will secure a mentor and build a team of experts around you to help bring the change.                             

Our opening event was a success; we had 4 projects presented from a group of motivated and passionate doctors to a panel of senior hospital figures. Topics included the development of a new critical care rehab service, the development of a computerised handover system, a teaching course for junior doctors and a HIV awareness campaign.

Feedback from all was overwhelmingly positive. “Very helpful contacts, sharing senior/management support provides impetus for forward motion”, “direct access to people who can do something for the project – amazing!”

The project was even recognised within the deanery, the idea resulted in me being awarded a place on the Keel University ‘Health Economics, Leadership and Management Course’. The final presentation of the project resulted in me earning the runner up award for the overall course with the option of completing a post graduate certificate.

Our aim is to continue the project next year and run a biannual event. So come on! Stop seeing audits and quality improvement projects as CV fillers, get your notebooks at the ready and start thinking – what can you do to improve our hospital? And who do you need to help?