A year on since the first UK lockdown – remembering and looking to the future by John Boulton, Director, Improvement Cymru

Yesterday marked a year since the UK first went into a national lockdown. Since that time, it has been incredibly challenging for all of us. We remember all those who have passed away, lost a family member or a loved one. And our thoughts go out to our NHS colleagues who have been working under extreme pressure and at pace for all this time.

It is important not only to reflect and remember, but also look to the future, learn and to start to picture how this might look for the NHS in Wales over the next few years. This week Welsh Government published the National Clinical Framework: A Learning Health and Care System. Work on the framework began before the pandemic and it has been re-framed in light of COVID-19. It builds on the set of actions that were highlighted in A Healthier Wales (published 2019) and highlights the need to transform the health care system in Wales, considers what we have learnt and sets out a way forward for these improvements.

The Framework supports the development of a health system that is co-ordinated nationally and delivered locally which is needed to deliver prudent and value based healthcare for the people in Wales. Improvement is a strong theme throughout the document. It sets out how pivotal it is to recovery and the future of our services in Wales.

Whilst improvement is a strong theme within the framework, how organisations manage for quality is also a strong theme. For me, this is a key driver that supports improvement within organisations by clearly setting objectives, but also looking to create the necessary conditions to support the improvement. As a team we have started to look at how we can support this and are working with a number of board teams across Wales.

As the pandemic hopefully starts to ease the Improvement Cymru team is looking forward to getting back to working with colleagues within NHS Wales. They have been redeployed to help with Public Health Wales’ response to COVID-19 over the last year. But in that time they have been able to use their improvement skills and expertise to support colleagues with new ways of working. We will play an active role in supporting NHS Wales on the next step of the journey and look forward to contributing to delivering this framework so that the people of Wales get the best care possible.