Thousands of staff, patients and supporters of the NHS have joined forces today for NHS Change Day – the largest display of collective action in the history of the NHS.
Now in its second year, NHS Change Day is the focal point of a grassroots movement that unites people across the country around a single mission: to pledge to do one thing to improve care for patients.
Pledge activity will be taking place in and around NHS organisations up and down the country.
Over a quarter of a million pledges, from healthcare assistants and clinicians to chief executives and graduate trainees, members of the public and staff working across social care and the voluntary sector have already been registered on the NHS Change Day interactive website.
Pledges range from the simple, such as promising to show appreciation for the work of NHS staff by smiling and thanking them more, 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 some of the experiences their patients have to endure.
Pledges received so far have covered almost every aspect of NHS care. Key emerging themes include:
– Improving the experience of patients and users (29%)
– Keeping patients and users safe (22%)
– Changing culture and attitude (16%)
– Developing and improving knowledge, skills or capability (14%)
Dr Damian Roland, Senior Paediatric Registrar at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and one of the founders of NHS Change Day, said: “NHS Change Day, which started out as a simple discussion about how to improve the NHS from within, has already become the biggest ever united healthcare movement for change.
“A simple grassroots idea has ignited a spark within the frontline. Hundreds of thousands of people – from those working in the NHS to those who use it and those who just value what it stands for – have been inspired to make a pledge.
“By doing so, they are demonstrating that individually and collectively they have power to make a positive difference for patients and they are not afraid to use it.”
Other examples of pledges made for Change Day 2014 include:
– A midwife so moved by the care experiences of her own disabled daughter that she has pledged to do all she can to get basic sign language included in nurse training;
– A surgical team who have pledged to make sure every child waking after surgery is greeted in the recovery room by their favourite cuddly toy;
– An NHS doctor who has pledged to spend an hour ‘collared and blocked’ on a spinal board to understand how his patients feel;
– A group of doctors finding out what it feels like to have a gastric nasal tube inserted;
– A support services manager who has developed new wheelchairs fitted with £1 supermarket trolley-style locks to encourage patients and visitors to return them;
– A doctor living on a special renal diet for a week.
As well as individual pledges, thousands of people have given their support to Change Day campaigns including:
– The U Can Cope initiative, which aims to help people deal with the stresses of modern life;
– A campaign to support minimum staffing ratios across the NHS;
– A pledge to do more to encourage clinical staff to introduce themselves by name, driven by a doctor whose experiences with terminal cancer have led her to reconsider the clinician/patient relationship;
– Stop the Pressure: a national campaign to half the number of cases of pressure ulcers.
The first NHS Change Day in 2013 attracted nearly 190,000 pledges. Many of them have had a direct impact on improving patient care, including: a pledge that led to the creation of a new confidential ‘Guardian’ service providing help and support for staff with concerns about the quality of care; a mass ‘mystery shopper’ exercise involving the mobilization of more than 200 Innovation Scouts; and, a group of student nurses who set up a mock ward in which they were the patients – a model which has now been included in the nurse education curriculum.