Our next steps as Improvement Cymru by Prof John Boulton, National Director of NHS Quality Improvement and Patient Safety/Director Improvement Cymru

Throughout the course of the pandemic the team in Improvement Cymru have been deployed to support the response within Public Health Wales. During that time we have supported call centres, health protection cells, analytics, operationalisation of population sampling centres, mobile testing units and improvements in laboratory turnarounds. I am sure I have missed some. But it does highlight just how much the team have been able to support the service. I want to thank everyone in the team for the commitment they have shown during the pandemic.

As of May 31 2021, the team will start to return to Improvement Cymru and will initiate our own process of recovery and begin to support the wider health and care system in Wales. We recognise that to a large extent the landscape now looks very different compared to 18 months ago when we were only just beginning to hear of a new virus in the Far East. To that end we know that we will need to support and engage with the system in different ways which we are currently developing and sharing with colleagues.

Whilst the system may look different and our approach will need to adjust accordingly, a number of challenges remain across all systems not just in Wales. A Healthier Wales outlined the core values of NHS Wales. One of those values is putting quality and patient safety above all else. I don’t believe that has changed; if anything, as we move into the recovery phase of the pandemic, it is perhaps more important than ever.

Improvement Cymru started life over decade ago as the patient safety campaign, 1000 Lives. It then developed into a team passionate about improving safety. Now, in May 2021, I want to reiterate our commitment to supporting safety and reducing avoidable harms within the system. We still need to focus on challenging issues such as acute deterioration, infection prevention and control, falls, pressure ulcers, along with many others. However, we need to look at safety and harm reduction across the continuum of care rather than perhaps a historical focus on secondary care. And in addition we need to consider how waits and flows impact on harm.

Over the coming weeks and months our focus will be working with organisations to drive safer care that supports and engages services across patient pathways.  We commit to sharing innovative practices and embedding quality improvement into everything we do… together.  I am sure I speak for everyone in Improvement Cymru, when I say it’s good to be back.  Check our social media to follow our progress.