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Breaking barriers for patients

From Wednesday, 19 March to Tuesday, 25 March, BCHC conducted an important exercise to test adult community care pathways and see how successful we can be in removing barriers for patients.

The initiative was based on NHS Urgent Care Intensive Support Team’s ‘ ‘Perfect Week’ concept. Of course, no week is ever ‘perfect’; but the aim was to ask “what does ‘good’ look like?’ and see how consistently we are close to that benchmark. What, then, might ‘very good’ require?’; how close to ‘perfect’ can we get?’

That’s why we called the exercise Breaking Barriers for Patients. For a seven-day period running across the weekend, we asked frontline clinical colleagues to seize the opportunity to tell us where these blockages are; to flag up those frustrating issues that prevent us from providing the right care in the right place at the right time.

We wanted clinical staff to shout out when they encounter a blockage or a delay so we could see what is needed to reduce or remove it and log the lessons learned for the future.

Senior managers from BCHC, Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (HoEFT) and Birmingham City Council worked together to give each issue raised the time and attention appropriate to its seriousness and complexity.

We particularly focussing on the east and north of the city - building on the excellent work already done in partnership with HoEFT to improve patient flow in and out of Good Hope and Heartlands hospitals throughout winter.

Our healthcare commissioners were also involved so that we collectively focussed on whole system improvement and fulfilling our shared ambition to make lasting changes to quality of care.

Pat Hackett, director of adult and community services, said: "Managers cleared diaries to ensure they were available to bear down quickly on the issues colleagues raise.

"This was about colleagues from across the Trust pulling together to sharpen our focus on individual patients and the quality of care we and our partners provide for them."

NHS England's Perfect Week concept offers a framework to reset a ‘broken’ system, relying on a mixture of social movement and multiple rapid improvement methodology underpinned by strong leadership and support mechanisms.

It has been developed to break the cycle of poor patient flow in hospitals and other inpatient settings resulting in overcrowding in emergency departments. The concept aims to test how far one week of intense improvement activity can improve flow across a whole system resulting in safer, higher quality, sustainable care.