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UCLPartners Improvement Fellows 2017: Interview with Dave Grewcock

10 October 2016 | Dave Grewcock

This week we talked to Dave Grewcock, a 2016 UCLPartners Improvement Fellow, to find out his reflections on the programme.

Hi Dave, please tell us a bit about yourself.

I lead an improvement team tasked with supporting UCLH’s transformation programme and building improvement capability across the trust, working as part of the organisation’s newly formed Institute.

How did you become interested in quality improvement?

My background around the NHS has been in clinical governance and education for 15 years in various capacities. I’ve had a real interest in quality improvement since going to the IHI conference in New Orleans in 2006 and seeing the work of people like Don Berwick and Brent James.  Partly, I think, I was attracted the idea that there was a “science” of improvement as well as an art. But it wasn’t until joining UCLH and the launch of the Institute concept that I really got the chance to work directly in promoting quality improvement.

Why did you apply for the Improvement Fellows Programme?

We were in the process of building an improvement team so were on the lookout for opportunities to connect both with the latest thinking in improvement, and with other people that were trying to create an improvement culture in their organisations. I very much felt that I was there on behalf of my organisation, trying to learn and connect. Of course there was a personal dimension too – it’s a way of identifying yourself as someone who is interested in improvement.

What are the key things you have learnt from the programme?

There were some key ideas and concepts that I found useful. Did the programme help me connect with current thinking in improvement? Yes, it did. But more valuable than that, I really appreciated the opportunity to listen to the honest reflection and personal reflections of guest speakers – people who had lived experience of the improvement journey. There’s huge value in their tacit learning.

I also learned a lot from the experiences of the Fellows. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that some of the challenges are particular to your own organisation, and that you are working away at them in isolation. As soon as you connect with others you are reminded that we all face similar challenges, so for me it was a great chance to triangulate my experience with that of others and to learn about the strategies they were using.

How has the programme affected your role?

I’m fortunate in that I have an explicit improvement role and I’m working as part of an improvement team. Many of the Fellows have serious clinical and operational roles and are driving improvement as a personal conviction and as a second or third strand to their work. So I can’t say that the Fellowship has changed my role, but it has certainly strengthened my conviction still further that we are doing the right thing and helped me understand the scale of the opportunity we have.

Do you think your involvement in the programme has helped improve patient care?

Given that my role is to build an improvement team and an improvement culture, all the projects we support should have an impact on patient care in some way.

Have there been any key outcomes from the programme for you? 

There are a couple that spring to mind. I think listening to Maxine Power at one of our first sessions had an impact on how I talk about improvement science, and it has definitely prompted us to go and look more directly at the Salford experience.

The other outcome is that through talking to one of the other Fellows, we’ve made better connections with Camden and Islington Trust’s quality programme. Given the current attention on addressing problems across organisational boundaries, I think that will offer some real opportunities in the future – we’ve already benefitted by being able to swap thinking about how we build improvement capability in our organisations and it certainly helps to have that connection and common language.

Do you think you will continue to be part of the Fellows network in the future?

Moving forward my hope is that other members of my team and my organisation take up future fellowship opportunities so they get exposure to the same thinking that I did. For me personally, I would like the fellows network to continue so I stay in touch with others’ experience of getting improvement approaches off the ground.

What advice would you give to people thinking of applying for the 2017 programme?

Think about how you are going to maximise the value of the opportunity. How are you going to protect time to follow up on some of the ideas and further connect with some of the people you meet on the programme? How are you going to share the value of what you encounter with others in your organisation? We are all busy, so these challenges are very simple, but very difficult to overcome.

Find out more about the UCLPartners Improvement Fellows Programme, and how to apply for the 2017 cohort, here.