Health

Thousands pledge to 'do something different' for NHS

  • 3 March 2014
  • From the section Health
A teddy bear being cuddle by child and nurse Image copyright SPL
Image caption Making sure a child's teddy bear is visible after surgery is one NHS Change Day pledge

Thousands of people working across the NHS are doing something different to improve care as part of NHS Change Day.

Last year, 189,000 people took part by making a pledge online - and this year the aim is to get 500,000 pledges.

Pledges include a GP spending a day in a wheelchair to better understand disabled patients and a manager helping dementia patients eat their lunch.

Two doctors came up with the idea for NHS Change Day after attending an NHS leadership course.

The aim of the day is to encourage those working for the NHS - and those who use it - to make the NHS better by pledging to do something different.

Last year, Dr Damian Roland, a paediatrician at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and one of the founders of NHS Change Day, tasted the medicines he routinely prescribed to his child patients and, realising they were very unpleasant, decided to work with his pharmacy to try to improve their taste.

This year Dr Roland is going to lie on a spinal board for an hour to experience how patients feel in a similar position.

He said the day was all about making a difference.

"NHS Change Day is about breaking down traditional barriers and recognising that everyone who works in, uses or cares about the NHS has the power to make a difference.

"A single pledge might not sound like much on the face of it, but when hundreds of thousands of people from every part of the NHS join forces with patients to pledge, it can create massive momentum for improvement."

This year, there have been pledges from everyone from NHS managers and chief executives, to nurses, doctors and healthcare assistants around the country.

Pledges range from the simple, such as making sure a child's teddy bear is right next to them when they wake up in recovery, to the innovative, such as helping terminally ill children understand and relate to the cycle of life by growing and nurturing seeds on the ward.

A number of NHS staff are using the day to experience first-hand what their patients have to endure.

In 2013, a GP pledged to spend the day in a wheelchair so he could understand the pressures on his disabled patients.

In another GP surgery, staff pledged to switch off the electronic message board for a day so they could call patients by name and re-engage with them.

This year, Pollyanna Jones, regulatory performance manager with King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is planning to spend her lunch break helping patients with dementia enjoy their meals.

Molly Kavanagh, service manager for paediatrics in the East of England, has pledged to create a storyboard that helps children diagnosed with autism or ADHD better understand the treatment they will receive.

And Stuart Poynor, chief executive of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent partnership NHS Trust, has pledged: "I will visit patients in our hospitals who do not have any other visitors."

UNISON, which represents 450,000 health workers, is encouraging NHS staff to get involved and make a positive change to the way they work.

Christina McAnea, head of health at UNISON, said: "NHS Change Day is an inspiring idea. It challenges the status quo and gives staff across the NHS the opportunity to think out of the box and come up with pledges that they believe will make a difference."

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