Freeing healthcare professionals from administration to deliver better-quality care through accreditation

Every radiotherapy department requires a quality management system that is regularly audited to ensure that it is fit for purpose. A number of external auditors, including the Care Quality Commission (CQC), will require evidence that the department has robust processes in place to maintain patient safety and demonstrate continuous quality improvement.
The busy team of healthcare professionals are required to provide accurate, up to date documentation and be available during the inspections whilst maintaining a seamless service for their patients, so the radiotherapy department at Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust looked for a solution to streamline the process.
Nicolai Greet, Head of Radiotherapy, discusses how CHKS accreditation has supported the Department to meet the challenge and simplify the administrative burden at the same time.

Simplifying the process for demonstrating quality of care

Radiotherapy departments are held to rigorous standards to ensure that patients receive treatment that’s safe and of the highest quality, and that their services are fit for purpose. This involves carrying out audits and peer reviews, which demand a significant amount of preparation and documentation, and the team at Mid and South Essex NHS FT wanted to ease this administrative burden.
Nicolai had heard from colleagues that CHKS accreditation could help to streamline the audits into a single improvement process, meeting several different standards criteria, and was keen to learn more. After meeting with the CHKS team, she was impressed with their experience of the NHS, CQC and radiotherapy services.
“I was confident the CHKS team had exactly what the department was looking for and would be able to help us streamline our auditing process and guide us through the accreditation process to help improve our patients’ experience,” she says.

Driving improvement and better communication

The CHKS team guide clients through the accreditation process step by step. A dedicated client manager provides continuous support and independent healthcare quality experts make surveyor visits.  It does, however, require effort and Nicolai says: “It’s not for the faint of heart – it’s about embracing quality improvement and continuously demonstrating that.”
The experience has enabled Nicolai and her team to reflect on their practices and drive improvement, identifying gaps and allowing the department to resolve issues more quickly.
One of the benefits that she has seen throughout the accreditation process is improved communication with colleagues who became involved in the improvement journey. “The accreditation process has brought the whole team on board with the quality improvement objective,” she says. “CHKS accreditation has ensured that every member of the team understands what we’re trying to achieve, which includes getting ideas and feedback from everyone. It has certainly improved communication and cohesiveness among the team.”
It also meant that they had all the information they needed for submission to the regional Operational Delivery Network, which oversees local healthcare services and ensures that standards are maintained. Having the information ready to send, rather than having to compile it separately, saved a lot of time that Nicolai’s team could devote to caring for patients.

Improving the patient experience with a focus on the softer side of care

Nicolai believes the accreditation process has helped the department to focus on the patient pathway and experience remembering that the patient is at the heart of everything it does.
“The softer side of care, such as the first impression the patient gets when they enter the service, can sometimes get lost among the treatment standards,” she says.
“CHKS looked at the department from the patient perspective and thought about the patient journey, and how it could be improved, which made us look at it differently too. For example, one small change the department has made to improve the patient experience is to reduce signage into a single television screen with rolling digital signs. This means that patients know at a glance where to go and have live updates on waiting times.”

How a remote process encourages creativity and innovation

The Coronavirus pandemic posed a challenge to the project as it meant CHKS surveyors couldn’t visit sites in person. However, together the Trust and CHKS teams rose to the challenge.
Thanks to CHKS’s Accreditation Online software, the radiotherapy department could be innovative and creative with document submission. “The CHKS accreditation platform was quick and easy to use and a helpful way for us to submit evidence and documents, but it also meant we could be creative in what we were able to provide. This included submitting a photographed walk-through of the department, which was annotated,” says Nicolai.
Video conferencing also played its part, allowing the CHKS and Trust teams to have face-to-face conversations and go through documentation. Nicolai says: “The CHKS team was very responsive and answered our queries quickly. We had a consistent dialogue, which worked well when submitting evidence remotely.”
Nicolai feels that CHKS accreditation has been a catalyst for driving improvement, which will ultimately benefit patients. Her vision for the future is that the radiotherapy department continues to improve and uses what it’s learned from other departments in other hospitals to become a beacon of good practice.
For more information 

Read our Q&A with Kirstie Oliver, a CHKS Client Manager

Read our Q&A with Sharon Spriggs, a CHKS Surveyor

Contact us for more information about CHKS accreditation