15 April 2015
CETAD at Lancaster University has recently completed a research project with three local NHS Trusts to identify the range of staff development activities that might be needed to support the NHS agenda on health care 'innovation and improvement'. This agenda is not only about improving the quality and safety of health care but about developing innovative solutions to the way health care is delivered.

The project lead was Steve Taylor, it involved staff from Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Hospitals Trust, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust and was supported by Health Education North West.  The approach taken was to use 'Appreciative Enquiry' to identify staff who were successful innovators or improvement 'champions' and to identify what attributes, skills and knowledge enabled them to be successful.  This would then inform the approach needed to develop others.

Key findings were:

  • The importance of creating the right culture and environment to support individuals and teams to innovate and bring about improvements.  Staff need to be encouraged, supported, valued and recognised for their work in this area and organisations need to remove barriers and facilitate the process. 
  • Leadership development: developing leadership strategies which encourage shared leadership and developing leaders to be able to develop strategies and approaches to encourage innovation in their areas.
  • Personal qualities.  There is a need to develop personal attributes, attitudes and behaviours rather than simply equipping staff with a set of tools and techniques.  These personal qualities include drive, enthusiasm, perseverance and the ability to influence others. 
  • The importance of learning from one another.  For example, sharing ideas and approaches, learning how others have been successful.  Mentoring and coaching approaches were identified as being successful.
  • 'Know-how' in terms of skills, knowledge and techniques, for example in change management, developing business cases, evidence-based approaches and ways to measure and evaluate improvements.

Next steps:

The report has been shared with key stakeholders in the Trusts to support the development of organisational strategies in this area.  CETAD is refreshing their postgraduate course portfolio to take account of the findings, for example reviewing courses on clinical leadership, mentoring and coaching and personal effectiveness.  The centre has just launched a Postgraduate Certificate/MSc programme in Innovation and Improvement Science and is reviewing the range of modules available.

In addition, CETAD is already involved in partnerships with the Trusts in this study and with others across the North West on joint initiatives to support culture change, leadership development and organisational development.