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Our improvement journey

Below is a short series of videos with our Deputy CEO, Laura Skaife-Knight. These videos highlight some of the work taking place across Team QEH including: our aim to become the best rural district general hospital for patient and staff experience, our staff networks, our Freedom to Speak Up Champions, and our reward and recognition programme.

Interested in joining us and becoming a valued member of Team QEH? Find out more about all the roles we have available across QEH here.

Our Mission

Our Deputy Chief Executive, Laura Skaife-Knight, told us how Team QEH are determined to become the best rural district general hospital for patient and staff experience:

“This hospital has a really special and unique place in the heart of the local community. People who work here have relatives or friends who work here, so everybody knows somebody and is connected in some way to the organisation. I think perhaps because of the royal connection too, there really is something very special about this hospital.

“We have support from a range and a breadth of stakeholders, but that isn’t by luck – that’s through involving them in everything we do, whether it be lobbying for a new hospital or involving Healthwatch and other organisations in our work to further improve patient engagement and experience.

“We work hard on relationships – this organisation has huge potential and we need to follow through on that – I think we’re well on the way to I think to delivering our vision to being the best rural district general hospital for patient and staff experience.”

Staff Networks

Deputy Chief Executive Laura Skaife-Knight described her pride in how our staff networks are creating a truly inclusive culture across QEH, and how important it is that we remain open, honest and transparent:

“We refer to everyone here as Team QEH, and by responding to a hugely challenging period over the last 18 months or so we’ve pulled together as a team, and that was much needed – it’s accelerated that work to improve our culture.

“During COVID, we introduced a number of staff networks, including our BAME network, to really listen to staff. That network, along with our Armed Forces network, disability network and LGBT+ network are transforming the culture in this organisation and I’m hugely proud of that.”

Freedom to Speak Up

Deputy Chief Executive Laura Skaife-Knight explains how quadrupling the Freedom To Speak Up support across the QEH has been recognised by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and is central to creating a culture where anyone can voice concerns:

“Our latest CQC report, which was published in February 2022, is really clear – and this chimes with what we feel ourselves – that there’s an open culture, a healthy culture and culture of speaking up here, which is great.

“We absolutely have more work to do. What we do have in place now is a fantastic community of just over 20 Freedom To Speak Up champions in the organisation, spanning most staff groups, which is brilliant.

“We have a blended model of Speak Up, that was introduced in September 2021 – we have one Lead Guardian – a staff guardian, in-house – then have a second Staff Guardian supporting the lead, and an Independent Guardian.

“We’ve invested significantly in Speaking Up so that we have resilience, and we can future proof the service, and I’m really pleased that we have gone from providing 30 hours of support per month for our staff to 120 hours of support per month.

“This demonstrates how seriously we take Speaking Up and we’re absolutely delighted that that’s front and centre of our latest CQC report.”

Reward and Recognition

Deputy Chief Executive Laura Skaife-Knight tells us how investing heavily in rewarding, recognising and valuing staff is supporting their health and wellbeing:

“If you look our latest Care Quality Commission (CQC) report, it is very clear that staff do feel listened to, valued, and supported.

“We’ve invested really heavily in rewarding, valuing and recognising staff – through some staff ideas schemes and formal award schemes – whether that be our monthly values awards or our big annual staff awards.

“We have also invested significantly in staff health and wellbeing – we can demonstrate year-on-year improvement and a step-change when it comes to staff feeling that this organisation invests in their wellbeing.

“We’ve done that in a number of ways, including becoming national leaders in menopause awareness for example. We also have three dedicated posts for Clinical Psychology and Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder (PTSD) in the organisation, which actually is quite rare across the NHS.

“We have 20 mental health first-aiders, and this package of integrated wellness support is class-leading in our opinion. We’ve drawn on good practice across the NHS and public sector, as well the private sector.

“We’ve got some way to go but we are punching well above our weight when it comes to improving staff wellness, and it’s front and centre of the decisions we make.

“We’ve extended free staff car parking for another 12 months, we have enhanced and improved staff changing areas and rest areas. We’ve introduced the availability of hot food at night.

“They may seem like simple things but they are the three biggest things staff told us will make a difference to them. So, as a leadership team, we have listened and we’ve done something about it.”



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