Balancing Business

This week it struck me that we are all currently doing two jobs. One is ‘business as usual’ – the work we all do on a day-to-day basis to provide high quality healthcare to our patients, and the other is ‘business as unusual’ – the work we’re all doing to identify ways to improve. With the DHB on a journey to become the best healthcare system in Australasia by 2015, it’s easy to be captivated by the high-profile improvement campaigns or initiatives and forget about the wonderful work we all do on a daily basis as part of our commitment to providing quality care. In fact, the challenge we all face is to acknowledge and appreciate both.

I was reminded about business as usual recently when I received this email from Anna, one of our staff nurses in Emergency Care:

Just an idea: last night I was transferring a patient at 0600 to Ward 34E in my eleventh hour of a busy night shift. On the way out, I noticed a pin board with a large sign in bold: ‘How to make a complaint’.  I commented to the girls “Wouldn’t it be nice if it read ‘How to make a compliment’?”  Then I thought why shouldn’t we have signs around the hospital and in the wards ‘How to make a compliment’?  Instead of encouraging negativity from the public, we should inspire confidence in our team.  In addition, it would help to build up team morale.

This email gave me a lot of food for thought, even more so because Anna sent it at 3:03AM at the end of a very hard shift! It made me reflect on the fact that we ask patients for complaints rather than compliments, which in turn can make staff who are working incredibly hard in often difficult circumstances feel undervalued. And yet of course positive feedback is an important part of recognising and appreciating a job well done. It seems to me that part of valuing you as staff is not just about encouraging the continual drive for service improvement but also recognising that what you do on a daily basis is a huge achievement. As such, there are discussions underway about how we can alter this focus on complaints to a focus on comments which can be both positive and constructive. Thanks for your suggestion Anna.

Winners of the Supreme Award in this year’s ANZ New Zealand and Equal Employment Opportunities Trust Work and Life Awards

By the same token, it’s also really important to recognise the second part of our jobs which is about improving what we do. Recently we had some wonderful recognition for our Future Workforce Team and their work on the Health Science Academies. The academies, which are operating in some South Auckland schools, encourage students to consider and pursue health as a career. This initiative took out the Tomorrow’s Workforce Award and the overall Supreme Award in this year’s ANZ New Zealand and Equal Employment Opportunities Trust Work and Life Awards. These prestigious annual awards celebrate innovation in response to employment challenges and opportunities across New Zealand. It was a great honour for the academies to take out the top award and I extend sincere congratulations to all of the staff and students involved.

Another initiative to be recognised recently is one that has addressed the time taken to transfer heart attack patients requiring specialised treatment from our ED to Auckland City Hospital. The initiative, which has seen a significant increase in the number of these patients who are arriving at Auckland City Hospital for potentially life-saving treatment within 90 minutes, won the Improvement Project of the Year Award at this year’s annual CIForum, which focused on quality improvement. Again, congratulations to all involved.

These three awards all recognise our work to improve the care we deliver and the linkages we are creating with other services such as primary care, Auckland City Hospital and local schools. It’s hugely exciting to see that we are playing a part in connecting these services together to add value to the work we all do.  

This brings me to the second Learning Sessions for 20,000 Days which were successfully held this week. These sessions brought together people from across the health sector to share their progress on several collaboratives which have already begun shifting the pattern of demand away from Middlemore Hospital. I’ll be sharing this progress with you in a blog post soon.



Author: Geraint Martin

Geraint Martin was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Counties Manukau DHB in December 2006. It is one of the largest District Health Boards in New Zealand and services a population of half a million. He has significant experience over 30 years in national policy & in managing both primary and secondary care . Previously, he was Director of Health and Social Care Strategy at the Welsh Government .He authored a radical 10 year strategy of reform, including the successful “Saving 1000 lives” Campaign.Until 2004, he was CEO at Kettering General Hospital & had held senior positions in London & Birmingham.He has worked closely with clinicians in improving clinical standards,patient safety,chronic disease management & managing acute care to reduce hospital demand.In NZ, He has promoted clinical quality and leadership as central to improving patientcare. This has led to a significant increases in productivity and access, whilst maintaining financial balance. CMH has completed in 2014 a $500 m capital redevelopment programme, the largest in New Zealand. A central part of this is the establishment of Ko Awatea,the Centre for Innovation and Research which will underpin CMH as one of the the leading health systems in Australasia.In 2008, he chaired the Ministerial Review of Emergency Care in New Zealand, and in 2013 was an member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Health Sector Performance. Geraint has an MSc in Health Policy from Birmingham University .His post-graduate work has focused on health economics and Corporate Strategy . He is adjunct Professor of Healthcare Management at AUT and Victoria University, Wellington Elected in 2006 as a Companion of the Institute of Healthcare Management, previously he was an Associate Fellow at Birmingham University.He is is Chair of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, a member of the Institute of Directors, on the Board of the NZ Institute of Health Management & previously the Board of The NZ Health Quality and Safety Commission.

One thought on “Balancing Business”

  1. Interesting that you ask patients to leave a compliment not a complaint. This would be a lot easier to do if nurses had a minimum time in which to respond when a patient pushes their assistance needed button. It sometimes seems that the nurses feel justified that their breaks take precedence over responding to a patent’s call for help. Is there not a system in place that another nurse can cover for a nurse taking her break?
    Also it would be nice if nurses could assist patients with opening the containers the butter comes in when they only have the use of one hand. Not simply ignore the help button or worse still come and say that is not their job. When service like that is provided it would be so much easier to give compliments and see that the nurses really do care for their patients.

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