“We have to demonstrate the excellent care we provide and we owe it to the patients, and their families and carers, to be able to describe what we have done to make them better."
“I’ve been with the NHS for eight years, initially joining as a senior performance analyst before moving to my current team manager role. Sussex Partnership is my only experience of the NHS; previously I spent nearly 30 years in the publishing industry. Like most people I didn’t really understand how the NHS was structured, with different trusts and support units; as far as I was concerned it was one big organisation.
“I wanted to move into the public sector as I’ve always supported the ethos of the NHS. I was previously a school governor, which gave me a small insight into a public service role and it was very rewarding, and I felt it was time for me to start putting something back into the community. There’s also a family commitment as well – my mother was a staff nurse and my eldest daughter is in her final year of medical school.
“For most people the NHS is about the delivery of care – it’s what the clinicians and nurses do every day to help people get better. I knew I didn’t have the skills or inclination to work on that side but I could offer something else.
“We coordinate reporting, both internally and externally, on the Trust’s activity and performance. These reports show how we’re performing against national and local targets and are sent to a range of people including the Trust’s Board and senior managers, Department of Health, NHS England and Clinical Commissioning Groups.
“At its simplest, the data could show how many new referrals we’re getting each month. Others are more specific, for example the seven day follow up target for people discharged from inpatient units. It’s well known that people are particularly vulnerable at this time as they go from receiving intensive support on a ward back into, in most cases, the environment which led to them being hospitalised in the first place. There is a national target that we must make contact with 95% of people within seven days of discharge. It’s a high target but a positive thing for patients as the aim is to help reduce suicide rates by making sure that they’re coping and know what to do if they have a crisis. We’re here to report on whether we’re reaching this target, which we currently are.
“But the role of performance is not to just produce numbers; it’s to question how effective we are as an organisation in providing care for patients. We’re here to shine a light into the dark corners and expose what we’re doing and ask “is it the right thing for the patient?” Just because we’ve done it that way for last 20 years, does it mean it’s the best way? We act as a critical friend to operational colleagues to help them deliver the best care they can.
“We have to demonstrate the excellent care we provide and we owe it to the patients, and their families and carers, to be able to describe what we have done to make them better.
“Appointing our new Chief Digital and Information Officer, Beth Lawton is a good step forward, as it shows that we’re taking information and data seriously and putting it at the centre of patient care.”