Patient First

Patient First is our long-term approach to transforming hospital services for the better.

Whether it’s small steps or complex change, it’s a continuous process of improvement within existing processes and pathways that leads to measurable improvements for our patients and staff.

And it’s all about empowering front-line staff to make improvements themselves – by providing the training, the tools and the freedom to work out where the opportunities are, and the skills and support to make change happen and to make it sustainable.


Building on proven success

Patient First is based on proven improvement methodologies, most notably the principles of ‘kaizen’ (or ‘continuous improvement’) and the Lean approach to management developed by the Toyota Motor Company and adapted successfully for use in healthcare by organisations such as the Virginia Mason Medical Center and Thedacare.

We have evolved these further for the specific needs of our hospitals and community to create our own Patient First Improvement System as a framework for service development through

  • redesigning systems to take out waste and reduce the possibility of error, and
  • standardising practices to make sure every patient gets a great service each and every time we see them.

This new Western Sussex approach is driven by six key principles:

  • The patient at the heart of every element of change
  • Cultural change across the organisation
  • Continuous improvement of our services through small steps of incremental change
  • Constant testing of the patient pathway to find new opportunities to develop
  • Encouraging front-line staff to lead the redesign processes
  • Equal voices for all

The trust’s kaizen team is training 1,000 colleagues in Lean working methods and Lean awareness training is now included in induction and annual update sessions to make sure everyone understands the principles behind it before it is rolled out into their area of work.

It’s about getting front-line staff to approach problem solving and root cause analysis from a different, ceaselessly inquisitive perspective.

And it’s already having results.


What have we done so far?

Staff at Western Sussex are becoming an army of problem solvers given the permission and skills to make the changes that will improve services for their patients and themselves.

So far, we’ve made some big changes and a lot of little ones.

One of our first tasks was to set up our Kaizen Office to co-ordinate the roll-out of the Patient First programme across the trust and support staff to learn new improvement methodologies and techniques.

We’ve also introduced safety huddles to strengthen communication and team working, developed a ward accreditation scheme to raise standards of care, and established improvement huddles to give all team members a voice in identifying opportunities for change.

“There’s overwhelming evidence that patients receive better care in organisations where staff are motivated and feel they are able to make a difference. That’s why we’re investing in staff and supporting them to make lasting improvements to services.”

Denise Farmer, Director of Organisational Development and Leadership


You can learn more about Patient First in the video below

The film looks at the five constituent elements of the trust’s leading approach to continuous improvement in the NHS:

  • An improvement system to introduce Lean methodology in a sustainable way to teams;
  • The formation of a Kaizen Office to support this work;
  • Comprehensive Lean training for hundreds of staff members;
  • Lean improvement projects; and
  • New strategic deployments to help the trust prioritise the most effective means of improving patient experience, quality of care, staff engagement, patient flow and financial management.

For more information, email communications@wsht.nhs.uk

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