Innovative NHS coaching programme shortlisted for top healthcare award

An innovative programme which is helping to improve care across the NHS by training pairs of NHS staff, one clinical and one non-clinical, to take a systematic coaching approach to making changes that lead to better outcomes for patients has been shortlisted for a major health award.

The Flow Coaching Academy, which is run by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, was chosen from hundreds of entries across the country as a finalist in the British Medical Journal Awards’ ‘Innovation in Quality Improvement Team’ category.

The British Medical Journal Awards are one of the UK’s most prestigious healthcare awards. This year 291 teams entered the awards across 14 categories, with only 78 making it to the final judging stages.

Initially a group of 24-30 staff receive specialist quality improvement training at the Flow Coaching Academy. Once trained, each pair of coaches sets up a ‘Big Room’ back at their hospital to guide staff from across a pathway through assessment, diagnosis, aim setting and testing prior to implementation of new models of care delivery. Each one hour ‘Big Room’ starts with a short patient story to ensure the patient perspective remains central to the improvement process.

The ‘Big room’ concept was taken from an initiative used by car manufacturer Toyota where everyone involved in developing a new car was brought together to share the complexity of the prototyping process.

So far 171 staff from 14 hospitals across the UK, including hospitals in Bath, Birmingham, Devon, London and North Ireland, have received training from the Flow Coaching Academy, with Big Rooms set up to help a wide range of patients including those with cancer, dementia, diabetes, psychological needs and those needing surgery.

There are currently 80 active Big Rooms which have led to key improvements in care. For example, at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust a Big Room set up by a geriatrician and a manager for a vascular surgery ward has meant that fewer patients are staying in hospital once they no longer need hospital care. A Sheffield Skin Cancer Big Room has also reduced the time patients had to wait for plastic surgery by two weeks.

Tom Downes, consultant geriatrician and clinical lead of the Flow Coaching Academy programme, said: “The Flow Coaching Academy grew out of the success of two pieces of work in Sheffield Teaching Hospitals to redesign geriatric care and respiratory care. This award is fantastic recognition of how incredibly successful the ‘Big Room’ approach has been in helping clinicians and frontline NHS staff across the UK make changes to improve patient care.”

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in London on the 24 April 2019.


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