Interview: Lucie Clough, Senior Improvement and Transformation Manager

In our latest interview, we speak with Lucie Clough, Senior Improvement and Transformation Manager at Women and Children’s Health, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Lucie has a background in project management and quality improvement, with the majority of her roles working in  children’s services. Her previous roles include working at Great Ormond Street, Guy’s and St Thomas’s, The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and  UCLH. 

Q: Could you tell me about your role?

A significant part of my role is based around managing and supporting staff with identifying and delivering cost improvement projects, which all trusts have to do every year. Each trust has to identify improvements to save money and identify efficiencies whilst retaining high quality services with patient safety being a priority. The focus is however moving away from just reducing costs to more the quality improvement side of things, and if we get that right cost savings and efficiencies should come out of that anyway.

I am quite fortunate in my role I can come up with innovations and different ways of working, I enjoy trying to think of ways to support our staff to try and build a positive culture in the division, as our staff are our most important asset and it is evident that happy staff equates to a better patient outcome and experience.

One of the things I have been working in line with this is on randomised coffee trials (RCT) that we launched 18 months ago, an idea we saw on the Fabulous Academy of NHS Stuff website. We match staff from across the division whose paths may not usually cross, such as a domestic member of staff with the Operations Manager and it provides a legitimate time to find out what other colleagues do,  share learning and talk about improvements. Good relationships are key to effective team working and of course it builds on the kind and friendly culture in the Division. We match people on a bi monthly basis and have 85 members of staff signed up and we are trying to recruit more. We would like to launch this across whole Trust (5 divisions) as this is where the real learning will happen and reduce silo working which can happen in hospitals of this size.

Part of my role is also about sharing our fantastic improvement projects across the division. It’s important we don’t just focus on the negatives and that we actually focus on the excellent work that is going on and the great innovation. In October we held our second annual Fab Change 2019 celebratory event as part of this. We had 22 stands this year including, NICU research, psychology and Milk Matters its a real opportunity to celebrate work, appreciate our colleagues and what they do and boost staff morale –  and the feedback we get is fantastic.

Q. What is one of your significant achievements over the past 12 months?

The RCTs have been successful and continues to be sustained – the feedback has been great over the last 2 years. We match different people together and it has been recognised at a very senior level. It helps support cross boundary working and I think there is real value in that, and more joined up working.

I would say I most proud of our division sharing and celebrating the excellent work they do, such as encouraging teams to apply for awards of funding and holding our annual staff and services celebration. I have always thought the softer and compassionate approach to management and leadership is undoubtedly the right thing, having empathy not just in women and children’s services but across the NHS. These in turn result in happier staff, better outcomes, motivated staff and reduced sickness and absence.

Q. If other organisations are looking to set this up, what worked well and what advice would you give them?  (RCTS?)

There’s a wealth of information online and lots on the Academy of FAB NHS stuff, it’s a brilliant resource. I am actually an ambassadorfor the eastern region – you can upload your projects and ideas and make contact with like-minded people who are passionate about quality improvement.  There’s various templates on there to use as well and you can keep up to date via their Twitter page. 

If you would like to set up your own RCTs I would say it’s really important to have senior clinical leaders involved and championing the initiative, to show that they support the concept and giving more junior staff the ‘permission’ to take part. There’s been lot’s of positive feedback and that’s because it’s been supported by lots of people across the division and word of mouth has been powerful.

Q. What are you working on at the moment?

A range of different projects including ward improvement work on our post natal ward which involves improving bot the patient and staff experience, supporting a project funded by Addenbrookes Charity ACT on intensive support for children with cleft lip and palate and I’m also just starting a project to support the neonatal unit intensive care unit to help them embed continuous improvement around family centred care.

As part of the Long Term Plan there’s supposed to be a new children and young people transformation programme and I want to keep an eye on that as that will have real implications on what we do. We need to keep abreast of  innovation and new technology and continue working with our partner organisatons. All of this is gearing up to a new children’s hospital in the futurehere at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. That will provide lots of opportunities for innovative working, new pathways and a holistic approach to care.

Q. What’s your approach to innovation?

There are lots of ideas for projects and improvements, and to ensure we know what is happening and can provide the necessary support, our staff create a one page project template and we then review that as a senior management team and see if it is a viable project to support and if we can support and help with direction. It gives us a really good oversight of what is happening and ensures we are being consistent with the Trust strategy.

We are also trying to build a continuous improvement culture byencouraging staff to feel empowered and have ownership of their projects, this means providing them with the right project support and quality improvement skills to lead their own project with confidence.