9 November 2016

A day in the life of Dr Ben Braithwaite

ben-braithwaite-with-borderRead time: 3 minutes


Could you give us a brief summary of your role and what a typical day at work is for you?

As clinical director for Community Health Newham I lead on quality and governance for our adult community health services. This includes our district nursing and community therapy services, musculoskeletal physiotherapy, learning disabilities,  and another dozen or more very specialised clinical teams. CHN also provides inpatient care on three wards at East Ham Care Centre.

I’ve been doing this job for a year and haven’t yet had a typical day! But taking today as an example, I chaired our QI forum, where we celebrated the successful closing of a medicine safety project on Cazaubon ward, and talked through ideas for five new projects. I spent some time finalising a serious incident report about a housebound patient whose pressure ulcers had worsened while we were looking after him, making sure that we’d identified ways to avoid similar harm coming to patients in future. I looked at our incidents and complaints data for the past week. And this afternoon I’ll be at the project board for EMIS, which looks after the roll out of the EMIS electronic clinical system to most of the CHN services.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

It must sound as though I spend a lot of time looking at things that have gone badly, but I love being able to celebrate the positive, hard work that people in CHN are doing all the time.

What do you do in your day-to-day work to support us to continually improve?

I try to ask “why?” as often as possible. Why do we always do x this way? Why did y happen? I aim to sound like a precocious toddler! If I can get colleagues to look at their work with a bit of perspective, we can often identify ways to cut through inefficiency and waste, so that we have more time and energy to care for our patients.

Do you think it is important for the leaders of this Trust to embrace quality improvement? Why?

Absolutely – and it’s really clear that the board and the exec team are focused on supporting QI throughout the Trust. While we know the best ideas for improvement come from people at the front line, it’s the job of the Trust’s leadership team to create the space in which those ideas can be tested and developed.

Do you have a story of something inspiring that has occurred through QI?

My GP colleague, Lili Risi, who works with the rapid response and extended primary care teams, led a project to spread the use of a “handy” framework for making holistic patient assessments. Lili, Abi Olowosoyo and Maloles Munoz-Cobo presented their project at the International Conference on Integrated Care in Barcelona, where they received a lot of positive feedback for their innovative approach.

What do you see as the biggest challenge to embed quality improvement, and what can we do to tackle this?

Being distracted by the “urgent” from what’s important: we need to make sure always to keep sight of our improvement aims, even while we’re dealing with immediate problems and crises.

How do you see the role of QI in the Trust as we move forward?

No prizes for predicting that we’ll increasingly be working in partnership with other organisations, in new and unfamiliar models of care. ELFT can bring a QI mindset to these partnerships, encouraging testing, measurement and rapid change so that we can make the most of these new opportunities.

Finally, could you sum up what quality improvement means to you and why you feel it is so important to us as a Trust to embrace.

ELFT’s focus on QI was the reason I applied to work here. I agree with Paul Batalden from the IHI; everyone in healthcare really has two jobs when they come to work every day: to do their work and to improve it. And ELFT is one of the best places in the NHS to do that.

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