Early in May 2017, my former colleague at ECIST (the emergency care intensive support team) Bernie Bluhm got in touch. Bernie works at Windsor Regional Hospital in Ontario, Canada, and contacted me to ask if I knew of any acute hospitals that had:
- a strong operational site team managing flow 24/7 across the site
- introduced and sustained the ‘SAFER patient flow bundle’ and the principles of ‘Red2Green days'
The first steps
Since joining the team in Canada, Bernie had been using our NHS principles for good patient flow such as the SAFER bundle. However, she thought it would be invaluable for the Canadian team to experience some of that work first-hand.
Following discussions with both Bernie and Karen McCullough, the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nurse at Windsor Hospital, I recommended they take a look at how Ipswich NHS Hospital Trust had implemented SAFER, supported by their development of Red2Green days. Both Karen and Bernie were keen, so I set about facilitating a visit from the Canadian team to Ipswich.
With Nick Hulme, the Chief Executive Officer, and Neil Maloney, Chief Operating Officer and Managing Director for Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust, we arranged a two-day visit. The aim was to give the Canadians a real insight into how the SAFER patient flow bundle and Red2Green days have been embedded at Ipswich. The visit took place in July 2017.
The two days were set up so that the visiting Canadian team (consisting of acute physicians, nurses and flow managers) could meet, observe and work with the Ipswich teams to see the principles of both initiatives in action. The team also spent time with staff in the operations room. The ops team play an integral role in co-ordinating the site, and facilitating admission and discharge using the Red2Green approach.
Feedback from Windsor Regional Hospital
In conjunction with Coreen Eastes and Neil Moloney, Ipswich’s Managing Director, we arranged a two-day site visit so that the Canadian team could hear about, and see first-hand, how Red2Green days work. The trust operations centre has been instrumental in improving patient flow.
Having seen and experienced Red2Green in action, it was decided that Windsor Regional Hospital will adopt the Red2Green days philosophy and practices.
The cultural and process changes that will need to be made for this to be successful were so well described and demonstrated by the Ipswich team. We are confident that the transition will be highly successful, with some tweaking to adapt the process to fit with Windsor Regional Hospital’s culture and systems.
The team’s work and the obvious passion demonstrated by all those we met to do the very best for every patient, was most impressive. As a result of the Ipswich team’s efforts and motivation, Windsor Regional Hospital will be the first hospital in Canada to adopt the Red2Green principles.
Karen McCullough, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nurse, Windsor Regional Hospital
The Ipswich team and I found spending time with Karen and her team a real insight into how other health sectors provide care. It was a great learning experience to compare our constraints and to be able to work through solutions with the Canadian team.
Having worked in the NHS for 30 years this October - and always very proud to say I am an NHS professional - I found spending time with the team from Canada immensely insightful. I felt really pleased that our tools and approaches like Red2Green days and the SAFER patient flow bundle are being used to help patients in other countries. It also proved that the grass is not always greener on the other side. Currently, the average time in an emergency department in Canada can be anything from 15 to 21 hours, and they have no national quality standard for emergency care.
It is important to reflect on the successes of our approach here, and the positive impact that innovations in the English NHS have the potential to make internationally.