I watch and read a lot of dystopian fiction and one of the grimmest things about the world to come is the extremes of 'identity': think red cloaks in The Handmaid's Tale, unseeing Ul Qoma in The City and the City, or a replicant in the persistent rain of 2019 Los Angeles. People do like to categorise.
I include myself in the catch-all; anyone who's ever seen me present on analytical matters will often hear me kick off by apologising for being a career analyst (it can be an awkward admission to make, especially in taxis) as a way of laying out my stall.
There is a long running joke in my family that I don't like change. It's true, I don't (the irony of having to make four major geographical locations over 8 years working in the NHS hasn't been lost on me). Change is hard, especially when it isn't on your own terms.
In part of my role, I work with the HS. Accelerator and the Department for International Trade to help health technology startups grow abroad. This involves overcoming myriad barriers and obstacles that prevent change being effective, if happening at all. It's not for no reason that adoption of innovations at scale takes around 17 years.
We at the Stroke Association are boldly pro-reconfiguration. As an organisation representing over a million stroke survivors and advocating for the best possible treatment and care, how could we be anything else?
We see it as our duty to ensure as many patients as possible get access to world-class treatments and round-the-clock care – both of which are more likely in reconfigured acute stroke services.
Stroke is not the same as cancer. Maternity services are not the same as psychological therapies. But is there learning to be gained from thinking about how system change happening in one clinical area could be transferred to others?
That was the premise behind our event series, in partnership with UCL, and funded by the National Institute for Health Research, which explored how the learning from stroke reconfiguration in London and Greater Manchester could support successful system change across the NHS.
I’m delighted to have been part of the recent learning from stroke webinars, where we had wide-ranging discussions of key aspects of major system change.
In our first webinar, Naomi Fulop, Steve Morris, and Ruth Boaden presented our NIHR research on centralisation of hospital stroke services in London and Greater Manchester, reflecting on how changes were led and put into action, and their impact on patient outcomes, delivery of evidence-based care, cost-effectiveness, and patient experience.
In our second webinar we turned to international perspectives on major system change: Allan Best gave insights on key principles and approaches to carry out such changes, and Kristian Taageby Nielsen shared the case of current work to reconfigure hospital care across the whole of Denmark.
It’s probably a bit strange to see a minor illness as a sign of a successful event. However, as we come to the end of our event series with the British Red Cross and Co-op Partnership on tackling loneliness, I’ve completely lost my voice! And I’m taking that as a good sign, after a few weeks which have brought real focus to the power of conversation and the value of human connection.
I'm excited about this month's upcoming events to discuss the lessons of the changes to stroke services in London and Greater Manchester.
The events will draw on the findings of the study led by Professor Naomi Fulop of UCL, which brought together a team of researchers, clinicians and service users from London and Manchester to examine the effectiveness of stroke reconfiguration. I am delighted to have been a member of this team.
But why are we talking about stroke reconfiguration in London and Greater Manchester? And why are we talking about it right now? We believe that, by using a mixed method approach to study a number of cases of major system change in stroke services, our research has identified several lessons for people who want to carry out changes of this kind in other settings.
How do you know if you're part of a family? Your parents, siblings – that's not too difficult. How about being part of a family of services?
It's a question we've been exploring in our shared learning series with the British Red Cross and Co-op partnership tackling loneliness. As part of our recent event in London we explored whether we can define a 'family' of services that share key features of the Red Cross's Community Connector schemes, and identify common challenges and solutions among these different schemes.
As a medical student, you get used to “first day nerves” happening every few weeks. New rotation. New location. New teams, new tensions.
This time round, I started a three-week internship at Kaleidoscope under the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management. Swapping a stethoscope, ward rounds and night shifts for laptops, thought showers and the 9-5 certainly raises eyebrows among medics. Medical management is considered going over to the dark side.
With apologies for the unsubtle metaphor (for which you can blame mother nature!) - we arrived in Bristol, for the first of our shared learning series with the British Red Cross and Co-op partnership on tackling loneliness, in deep fog. We left in glorious sunshine.
The event featured a wide range of organisations that work to tackle loneliness by connecting people back to their communities. Along with upcoming events in London and Glasgow, it aimed to draw upon the learning emerging from the Red Cross's own work to establish almost 40 new 'Community Connector' schemes across the UK, and to share this with other similar schemes working in different areas and with different communities.