NHS Change Day is a grassroots initiative set up by two doctors to inspire people to improve NHS services through pledges to make everyday changes or improvements that will transform the NHS from the bottom up.
In just two years NHS Change Day has amassed nearly half a million pledges from healthcare assistants and clinicians to chief executives and graduate trainees, as well as staff working across the social care and voluntary sector and members of the public.
Pledges received this year have covered almost every aspect of NHS care. Key emerging themes include: improving the experience of patients and users (29 per cent), keeping patients and users safe (22 per cent), changing culture and attitude, developing and improving knowledge, skills or capability (14 per cent).
Dr Damian Roland, one of the founders of NHS Change Day and senior paediatric registrar at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, says that NHS Change Day started out as a simple discussion about how to improve the NHS from within, with GP Stuart Sutton and NHS improvement leader Helen Bevan. 'It has already become the biggest ever united healthcare movement for change. A simple grassroots idea has ignited a spark within the frontline. Hundreds of thousands of people from those working in the NHS to those who use it and those who just value what it stands for have been inspired to make a pledge,' says Dr Roland.
Examples of some of the pledges, from NHS Change Day include a midwife who has pledged for all nurses to receive basic sign language training, a pledge that was inspired by her disabled daughter.
A number of NHS staff have used Change Day to experience first-hand some of the experiences that their patients have had to endure.
Jane Cummings, the director of nursing at NHS England, has herself pledged that she will 'follow around a district nurse and his or her team to understand the work they do and how integration can improve care for our patients'.
At the NHS Health and Care Innovation Expo, held at the beginning of the month, the NHS Change Day stand was covered in pledges from delegates who were able to submit pledges on the spot. The NHS Change Day hashtag was trending on Twitter and as 7 March has had over 68.5 million Twitter impressions.
A number of pledges for NHS Change Day have been turned into local projects and innovations, in order to ensure that the pledged changes carry on influencing healthcare after NHS Change Day is over.
Joan Pons Laplana, a community nurse from Derbyshire, submitted a pledge to the first NHS Change Day last year. Since then he has worked with the NHS Change Day team to promote their work. He was also shortlisted for the Kate Granger Awards the winners of which were announced at the Health and Care Innovation Expo, but lost out to Dr Sophie Edwards, a consultant geriatrician at North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust (see page 11).
He says, 'last year during the first NHS Change Day, my team decided to become more efficient and spend more time with patients, when we realised that workload levels and and the needs of the patients were changing. After a meeting within the trust we had a week to come up with a simple idea that could increase efficiency and improve patient care. I had just started working at the Derbyshire Community Trust and at my previous workplace we had an electronic system to allocate patients to the nurses working out in the community. I decided to put this idea forward at Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust.
'The idea was implemented and we went from having daily complaints that the staff didn't have time to spend time with patients to, within six months, the same patients nominating us for a compassionate and outstanding care award. That inspired me and I sent a report to NHS Change Day who invited me to present my journey at the launch of this year's NHS Change day.
'I was then approached by Jacki Lynton and Pollyanna Jones, who work with Change Day, to see if I wanted to promote NHS Change Day in East Midlands and Derbyshire. Working with NHS Change Day was inspirational and now I work with all the different trusts in the East Midlands to encourage the sharing of good practice in every hospital and community trust and having everyone go the extra mile.
'My individual pledge this year was to not leave any patient's house without smiling. I let my patients talk and I actively listen, and I've found that they respond to my advice better. I find that they are healing a lot quicker, if I create a connection with them.
'It is very rare that positive stories about the NHS stories are in the press. NHS Change Day is the ideal platform to shout about good practice.'s
Mr Laplana also makes the point that, 'NHS Change Day is not just one day, it is 365 days of the year and the hard work starts now for healthcare professionals to put all their pledges into action. It is easy to put a target on the number of pledges made but they mean nothing if the pledges aren't put into action.'
NHS Change Day can only grow further. There are nearly 500,000 pledges to date, ranging from small pledges about greeting patients to implementing new services within trusts.
Healthcare professionals are able to record their pledges online until 31 March, which will contribute to the movement's momentum.
NHS Change Day is also exerting a global impact. It has been launched with three simple pledges that all healthcare professionals around the world can get involved with. The three pledges are to: greet people with a smile, ask patients/service users 'how can I improve your care today?', and to ask colleagues 'how can we work together to make health and care better?'.
Global Change Day has already attracted interest in countries such as the United States and Australia.
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