Life as a Yorkshire Improvement Fellow and becoming a National Q Fellow


I became an Improvement Academy Fellow after meeting Alison Lovatt at the Academy one afternoon back in 2013. I had recently begun work at the Yorkshire Ambulance Service and arrived asking for some help with a Falls Prevention Network that had been set up within the region. We got talking over a coffee and things soon escalated. Alison wanted to know so much! – What’s the culture like within YAS? How about the current patient safety work? How much influence you can have when you are working as a “lone wolf”. Who supports you?

It was evident to me that Alison and the Improvement Fellowship Network would become a valuable support in my patient safety role at YAS. I suddenly felt connected to a wider group of individuals who shared a common purpose; to make local quality improvements within their own healthcare setting.

I began by attending the IA Fellowship events. They were fun, informal but invaluable in terms of sharing new ideas & improvement projects including, importantly, people’s failures – where things did not work. Most of all at the end of the day I felt my personal batteries had been re-charged and I had been given the space to think differently and the inspiration to try something new. I felt connected to the wider group and realised the real value of what I was trying to achieve.

I have remained an active IA Fellow and have been given the opportunity to attend conferences and other events – such as becoming a founding member of the Q community in 2015.

Being a founding member of the Q initiative was a unique opportunity to co-design and test Q. Q is a community of people interested and involved in quality improvement working within a health and social care setting across the UK. We had 3 design events led by The Health Foundation and supported and co-funded by NHS Improvement. They helped us to consider how to surface, support, develop, connect and mobilise people involved in quality improvement within health and social care in order to maximise and accelerate their improvement. This idea for a community of quality improvers was inspired by the ambition for 5,000 improvement fellows first coined by Don Berwick in his report ‘A promise to learn – a commitment to act’ (2013).

With each event there came a growing sense of purpose and vision for the Q initiative and it was evident that Q would provide a long-term platform for cross boundary learning and change, something that was very important for Yorkshire and Humber to be involved in. Already we have shared improvement ideas. New projects have begun to grow from contacts made at the first Q events. In Yorkshire and Humber we were keen to see how Q would now complement our existing Improvement Fellowship scheme. An advantage we have in Yorkshire compared to other regions is that we have an existing, framework and support system for those who wish to become a national member of the Q community and allows those not already comfortable in QI techniques to have a support system that develops them for this in the future.

I would encourage anyone within Yorkshire and Humber, working in health and social care, who is interested in quality improvement and making things better for patients and clients, or is buzzing with ideas to think about becoming an Improvement Fellow with the Academy – you may want to join Q as well! The application process for Q Community goes live in Yorkshire and Humber from 9th March 2017. Check on the web site for details.