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by Kathryn Thomson

Chief Executive

Giving our patients a "voice" is the key to quality care

Some people might imagine that hospital managers and Trust boards are quite distant from what is happening on the "front line" and not really aware of the sort of experience patients are having. Here at Liverpool Women’s we make strenuous efforts to ensure we are in touch with their views and to give our patients a "voice".

We are committed to continuing to develop safe, effective, high quality care that gives patients a positive experience. So it's essential to gain feedback from patients' themselves on such issues as attitude of staff, their medical, nursing and midwifery care and communication.

One way we do this is to share real life "patient stories" every month at key meetings in the Trust, including the Trust Board and Board of Directors. Earlier this year a patient actually came to a Board meeting to tell us her own story. It was incredibly powerful and an example of how listening to what patients say can help us improve care.

Initially she had a negative experience when having her baby at the hospital three years ago. She'd made a complaint and I met her to discuss her grievances. Clearly all had not been well, particularly around issues like communication. When she was due to have another baby' she rang me and I asked her to give us another chance. Happily she did and her next birth was all that it should be. If we do get it wrong sometimes, we have to learn from that. Giving birth is such a sensitive and profound time in a woman's life and no matter how many births we handle' every woman has to be made to feel her's is a unique and special experience.

We gain additional insight into what is happening with our regular safety walkabouts throughout the hospital. Also' our executive directors spend time working in clinical areas, shadowing clinical staff. Our Governors are another important source of feedback and we are pleased that some are keen to be involved in our quality work. They are elected members of the public, representing the community in different parts of Merseyside and the rest of the country. They help shape what is happening at our Trust, acting as the "voice" of their communities.

In November we are launching a new initiative called Energising for Excellence (E4E) which we hope will have a big impact on patient care. This is a framework for Nursing and Midwifery which measures whether the very basics of care are being delivered on wards and will assess levels of patient satisfaction. We know that many patients feel more than satisfied with their care. This is illustrated by the "thank-you" cards in every ward and department and by the photos sent regularly of how babies we have cared for are developing.

We know that staff who are happy at work are more likely to deliver a positive patient experience. That's why our Energising for Excellence programme will consider how we support staff, whether we have the right staff in the right place and will assess levels of staff satisfaction.

Gathering all this information from patients and staff should give us a compelling picture of how we need to go forward.

24 October 2011