See and act on the bigger picture

Position your service to be of help to both patients and the healthcare system, recommends Naomi McVey in her latest blog

by Naomi McVey

Seeing the bigger picture For my first CSP blog I wrote about how it’s important we look up, look out and shout about what we do. A year later and I’m blogging about looking up and out again - but this time to respond to the strategic context we are working in.

At nearly every Allied Health Profession (AHP) event I’ve spoken at over the past 18 months I’ve asked the audience if they have read the Five Year Forward View. At first would just be two or three people, then a few, and now normally half to two thirds of the room. Bearing in mind I speak to mostly NHS audiences in England I think there’s still some more to be converted! It’s not a long document, and it’s accessible and relevant - and most importantly we are over two years in and it’s driving many of changes to the NHS in England.

Understanding local priorities

As physiotherapists and AHPs we can often feel overlooked or undervalued. To position ourselves to influence locally and nationally we need a good understanding of the key priorities of the people we are trying to influence, how our service fits into this bigger picture, and a relevant (and enthusiastic) offer of help. This means awareness of strategic national and local plans is essential.

As an AHP lead for the North West I am asked by my organisation to ensure that our work as a regional network is responding to the needs and priorities of sustainability and transformation plans (STPs). For me this meant a steep learning curve on all things STP-related, and reading the nine STPs for the North of England. It was a short, sharp lesson in making sure we are relevant and responsive.

Quadruple aims

The Five Year Forward View focuses on health and care in England, but the gaps set out, and the triple (or quadruple) aim of healthcare, are universal to countries, regions, specialisms, and sectors.

As a starting point, as individuals and teams over the next couple of weeks, I’d really encourage you to think about and discuss how you contribute to the four areas below, how you measure and share the impact of that contribution, and what you could do differently and improve on:

  1. The care and quality gap – including patients’ experience of care and variation in the quality of services and patient outcomes.
  2. The health and wellbeing gap – activities that focus on improving not only the health of individuals but populations too.
  3. The funding and efficiency gap – making sure interventions and services are cost effective.
  4. Care team wellbeing - improving the work life and wellbeing of staff.

In her ‘In person’ piece early 2015 Karen Middleton wrote about the importance of being the solution not the problem. The NHS is constantly changing, and is facing some significant challenges, but physiotherapy and other AHPs have much to offer in terms of solutions. It is important we offer these in response to plans and priorities in our countries and local areas.

Use this bigger picture to target your messages. Hone your influence and drive service improvement. And most importantly, position your service to be of help to both patients and the healthcare system.

Naomi McVey is programme manager for AHP Workforce with the North West AHP Network. Follow Naomi on twitter @NaomiMcVey

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