NHS Change Day was a nationwide initiative, held for the first time on 13.03.13, with the aim of creating the biggest single quality improvement event the NHS has ever seen. NHS staff across the country pledged to make small and large changes to their practice, for the benefit of patients. The most popular pledges on the central NHS Change Day pledge wall were:
- “I will re-humanise my practice of medicine by always using patients’ names when talking about them, as a constant reminder of their individuality.” Dr Laura-Jane Smith, Respiratory Registrar and UCL Medical School Teaching Fellow
- “I pledge to taste a variety of paediatric medications I prescribe to my patients.”Dr Damian Roland, Paediatric Registrar and NIHR Doctoral Research Fellow
- “I pledge to share we can all get through distress and suicidal thoughts. There is always hope/help via U Can Cope connectingwithpeople.org” Dr Alys Cole-King, Consultant Psychiatrist
The vision was that the collective effect of these individual pledges would have a huge positive impact on the patient experience. Over 180,000 pledges were made, far exceeding the original target of 65,000. UCL Medical School was the first medical school to get involved and make a pledge.
“UCL Medical pledges to focus learning on quality improvement and patient centred care, supporting our students in making a difference. There will be different activities across years and across sites, with many activities student-led. We are excited by the ideas and enthusiasm of our students and look forward to joining the biggest single quality improvement project the NHS has ever seen.”
Although there were key faculty members supporting NHS Change Day at UCLMS, the ideas and enthusiasm came from students themselves. Students from within and outside UCLU Medical Society became ‘change-makers’ spreading the word, developing ideas and motivating all students to make pledges.
“We were keen to get involved in such a scheme, bringing us back to one of the fundamental reasons we should all be entering into the field of medicine – the patient.” Sobana Jeyapala, medical student.
After a highly successful Facebook campaign, taking photos of students from all years all over campus wearing NHS Change Day T-shirts, interest spread rapidly. Students began posting their pledges on UCL Medical School’s own local online pledge wall, which was also linked to a Moodle site.
Pledges came from UCLMS staff and students and included:
- “I pledge to stay after a clerking to have a chat with the patient – even if I feel the urge to rush off to revise for Finals” Jamie Gulrays, final year student
- “I pledge that I will always pause at the end of a consultation to ask if the patient has any questions for me…and wait long enough for them to answer.” Prof Jean McEwan
- “I pledge to develop my compassion and the human connection I form with patients. I will do this by focusing on what makes us similar, not what sets us apart.” Lyndon James, final year student
- “I pledge to ask all patients I talk to on NHS Change Day about what gestures or traits help them to feel respected, important and well looked after by the doctors, and implement these into my future contact with patients” Esha Abrol, fifth year student
On NHS Change Day itself stalls were set up at the three main sites, laden with chocolate (or Costa coffee at the Royal Free), offered as incentives for students to write pledges on colourful sticky notes, and post them on one of the physical pledge walls.
Roosey Sheth, Halcyon Munton, Esha Abrol and Ranjana Raj manned the Bloomsbury stall in the Crucifrom building entrance where crowds of medical students passed through. They collected so many pledges their wall had to be expanded! Sobana Jeyapala, Oshani Dissanayake and Sujitha Selvarajah ran the Royal Free stall in the popular student retreat: the canteen. Brooke Calvert helped with an additional stall in the library. At The Whittington Undergraduate Centre were Mandana Shoa, Benjamin Lau, Dillon Obika, and Hana Damirji. In total over 330 pledges were made on the physical pledge walls at the three central sites, in addition to those on the virtual pledge wall.
“It was a fantastic experience to be part of the collective energy of people at all levels of our education – doctors, teachers, clinical skills tutors, and students of every year at UCLMS – working together to produce a dynamic event that encouraged us to make active changes, however small, in a positive direction and to think outside teh box when it comes to being patient-centred.” Mandana Shoa, 5th year student
“It was a privilege to see students and healthcare professionals alike thinking about what they can do to improve their own practice and how they care for their patients, not only today but for their future careers.” Oshani Dissanayake, 5th year student
Patrice Baptiste and Joseph Kibbler, spent part of their PALS SSC making video interviews with patients and staff asking three questions: “what does it mean to be patient-centred?” “what is quality in healthcare” and “how can students make a difference to the patient experience?” The prospect of being filmed was not always greeted enthusiastically, but the students used their persuasive skills to good effect. The result is an insightful and inspiring collection of thoughts from students, doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers, which we hope to share widely.
“We saw that most of us actually have very similar ideas, simply wishing to make the patient experience a better one.” Benjamin Lau, 5th year student
“It was great to see the first and second years thinking about how they can be patient-centred at their stage.” Esha Ebrol, 5th year student
NHS Change Day may have seemed ambitious, or idealistic to some, but the level of enthusiasm it was met with at UCL Medical School is a testament not only to those who organised it, but to the ideal for which it stands for. NHS Change Day will hopefully continue to grow as an event nationally, at UCL Medical School, and at other medical schools across the country so that personal improvement in practice and the belief that small changes make a big difference is encouraged from the very start of training.
“On NHS Change Day students from first year to final year recognised that 13.03.13 signified a chance to begin to put patients back at the heart of the NHS. They were challenged to think about patient-centredness, and their creativity and motivation was aptly showcased on vividly coloured pledges. They were rewarded with chocolate, but for me it was the colourful and vibrant beginnings of change that was exhibited that will reward patients and the NHS in the longterm. ” Roosey Sheth, 5th year student
Article written by Mandana Shoa, 5th Year Medical Student and NHS Change Day Change-maker.