Embracing our new opportunity as part of the NHS Wales Executive

By Dominique Bird, Deputy Director and Head of Quality Improvement, Improvement Cymru

Dominique Bird

In the dynamic landscape of healthcare, the pursuit of quality isn’t just an aspiration; it’s an imperative, it impacts the health and lives of the people we care for. Quality care and patient safety stand as the cornerstones of NHS Wales’ mission, perpetually driving efforts to enhance services, mitigate risks, and improve patient outcomes. This relentless pursuit for improvement demands a holistic approach, one that seamlessly integrates technical with cultural transformation, with the lynchpin of leadership to enable improvement.

For over 15 years, Improvement Cymru has provided NHS Wales with national expertise to improve patient outcomes, build capacity and capability in improvement, and create the conditions for improvement to flourish.

As Improvement Cymru transitions into the Quality, Safety, and Improvement directorate within the NHS Wales Executive, a new chapter begins. This evolution presents an unprecedented opportunity to broaden our scope, facilitating a system-wide approach to quality, re-centring our focus on patient safety, and fostering collaboration with other NHS Executive partners to strengthen the quality management system. The NHS Executive’s holistic integration of quality planning, assurance, and improvement is geared towards fostering a culture of continuous learning—a pivotal step towards ensuring care that is compassionate, safe, sustainable and equitable.

This new directorate within the NHS Wales Executive is poised to embed quality, safety, and improvement into the very fabric of support provided to NHS Wales. By championing system leadership to facilitate collective learning, our strategy revolves around the Quality and Safety Framework, placing continual learning and improvement at its core.

The remits of quality, safety, and improvement are vast and interconnected, aiming to forge a seamless continuum from data to knowledge, knowledge to practice, and practice to data—a perpetual learning cycle essential for the evolution of NHS Wales into a truly learning system.

This includes:

  1. Advising, designing, developing and delivering quality and safety improvement programmes, tailored to align to the national priorities and programmes across the NHS Executive.
  2. Leveraging safety metrics, notices, alerts, and safety assurance from across the NHS Executive to pinpoint areas for safety improvement across NHS Wales and minimise unwarranted variation.
  3. Strategic support to enable the implementation of the Duty of Quality Statutory Guidance 2023 and the Health and Care Quality Standards 2023. With national leadership in the development of quality management systems across NHS Wales

As we embrace this new opportunity, our commitment remains unwavering—to cultivate a culture of quality, to champion patient safety, and to drive relentless improvement at every level. Through collaboration and a steadfast dedication to learning, we envision a future where healthcare in Wales sets the standard for quality and compassion. We do this for the people of Wales.