Celebrating 75 years of the NHS

Lee McQuaide, Senior Improvement Manager for the Improvement Cymru Academy |

As we mark 75 years of the NHS, we’re getting to know a newer member of the Improvement Cymru Team, to understand their role in improvement and contribution to the NHS in Wales.

I’m Lee McQuaide, Senior Improvement Manager for the Improvement Cymru Academy. As part of my role, I develop and deliver improvement courses to health and care staff. I joined the NHS in January 2022, after 28 years of working within the steel industry as a qualified Mechanical Engineer, before transitioning into leadership roles across the industry.

I loved working there, but after watching the news during the pandemic, I said to my wife that I would love to use my experience and skills in a healthcare setting to help make a difference.

To me, improvement is the application of tools and techniques to standardise the way we work to deliver an effective service. Improvement methodology that is applied within the steel industry can be used to benefit healthcare too. I recall an improvement team based in Cardiff and Vale University Health Board joining us on a site visit to learn about our operational excellence. The team saw how we used standardisation to avoid deviations and how we changed behaviour and habits to ultimately create efficiency in how we work. The time spent with the team provided a great opportunity to share learnings between the two sectors and I was fortunate to hear first-hand experiences from NHS staff. This visit helped inspire me to make the change and transfer my improvement skills to the NHS.

Using the skills I gained from the steel industry such as lean thinking and standardisation, I primarily develop and deliver bespoke improvement training to staff to support improved safety and quality within NHS Wales. As part of the Improvement Cymru Academy portfolio, we offer a range of core courses to suit learners at any stage of their improvement journey. We also deliver a number of short Improvement Extra courses which supplement learning. To date, I have delivered over 40 courses with further training planned. I believe all staff should embrace improvement and look to develop their skills to support their teams to deliver more effective care.

I would love to see a world class improvement culture within NHS Wales and enrolling on one of the Academy courses is a great way to begin. We’re continually developing our courses to ensure we meet the ever-changing demands of the NHS. It’s a really interesting and exciting team.

Visit the Improvement Cymru Academy webpage to learn more about the range of courses available.