Weeknotes catch-up: 5 to 23 July 2021

A couple of weeks’ notes were left languishing unfinishished in my drafts folder, so this note covers 3 weeks, not the usual 1…

Cycled along the canal

The rush of meetings slowed down this week, as people started to head off on their holidays. This gave me the chance to properly read some documents and give feedback to the authors. On my reading list:

  • A set of product strategy questions around one of our live services
  • Proposals for a handful of discovery themes
  • A document on channel strategy
  • A proposal for a new way of working in part of our organisation
  • An action plan for recovery of a service

To help me draw common themes across them all, I dumped the text into a spreadsheet and made a quick affinity sort of the themes that emerged. Although created by different teams in different parts of the NHS arms-length-body landscape, I could see they were all getting at the same things:

  • Starting with user needs and health outcomes
  • Entry points and access to services, which are not always clear to the public
  • End-to-end patient journeys and flows through a complex ecosystem
  • Organisational concerns, including our workforce and building new capabilities

A lot of the work of service transformation in the NHS is making links like these between different pieces of work, and helping teams collaborate even when they work with very different toolsets.

Patients as part of our governance

You have the right to be involved, directly or through representatives, in the planning of healthcare services commissioned by NHS bodies, the development and consideration of proposals for changes in the way those services are provided, and in decisions to be made affecting the operation of those services.

NHS Constitution for England

I greatly enjoyed meeting (remotely) the members of our Mental Health Patient and Public Voice Board. Jacqui and Marie work tirelessly to ensure that all members of the group can participate, so that over the years the group has shaped national policies on a number of occasions. Topics such as data sharing and integration of health and social care can sometimes seem dry and complicated. It’s a powerful antidote to hear from patients themselves about the simple and direct impacts when we get things right or wrong. I said I was lucky to hear the group’s priorities early on in my time in this role, and pledged to make sure we involve them in new pieces of work at an early stage.

Focusing on outcomes

Helping to understand the big picture, I attended a second meeting of the Recovery Oversight Group. We continue to iterate the reporting on digital delivery for this group, which will be easier to do as the group’s own priorities are firming up. I hope my team and I will be able to give the group confidence in digital’s ability to deliver for the recovery and transformation of urgent and emergency care, and that in return colleagues from other teams represented there will be able to champion digital as part of the solution to the sector’s wider challenges.

Meanwhile, I’m continuing to get exposure to what it’s like for people delivering services and using our digital products. I observed a couple of research sessions on the service finder tool. It really helps to listen and watch people actually using prototypes of new features, to see where we might be overcomplicating things, or missing out on the specific tasks that users are trying to accomplish.

What else?

Outside my NHS work, I’m a non-executive director of Leeds and Yorkshire Housing Association. I took part in a meeting of the Audit and Risk Committee, and a timely session on the Housing Diversity Network’s Board Excellence Programme in which we heard from a representative of the sector’s regulator.

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