It is February, the month of final budget setting (hopefully), the month where you continue to pick up the pieces of cancelled elective work and try to fit it in amongst the continuing tide of sick, frail, old and not so old patients who need urgent care. The month where you try to marry the two together.
Looking back so you can prepare for the future is no bad thing; R. Jay Wallace has a book entitled The View from Here: On Affirmation, Attachment and the Limits of Regret;which looks at how we celebrate or deplore the conditions and choices that we have made – that underline our successes and failures.
He is a philosopher so makes some thought provoking statements, some of which I understand some I don’t, but the essence in my opinion is - does the end justify the means?
The answer is it depends on the view point and whether or not you are at the receiving end of the decision making process or you are the decision maker.
Looking back over the last financial year, just before you make the final decisions for the coming financial year, are you happy with the result of the decisions you have made? Do you have regrets, moments of triumph, areas here the service you lead has performed really well or made a difference?
If so how will you use that view to put changes into place in the coming year?
What has this got to do with ISAS and not just the ramblings of a retired manager?
Well within ISAS the audit process will enable you to look over any successes or failures with a dispassionate and evidenced based view.
All the better to write business cases with. Audit will also reinforce to your teams the task ahead and the gains made over the audit period, for teams there is nothing better that celebrating success.
When your senior managers/trust board call into question your performance as a service (they have a different view from there) you will be able to evidence your view point; all commentaries within the standard have an evidence base attached in the form of NHS documents, professional documents, websites, etc.
The commentaries are updated annually and the evidence provided is checked to ensure it is as up to date as possible. It is important to remember you are the expert on your service ISAS will help you maintain and build on that expertise.
One aspect I have not mentioned so far (saving the best till last) is the view of the patient, carer or user of your service.
Performance on paper through an audit process is no match for the experience of those who use the service.
ISAS at its core is patient focused and asks you to look at your patient/user experience and views of your service.
It is easy to produce the ‘thank you‘ cards, the complaints, patient survey results and any patient group interaction you may have; but are you assured that this is showing you the full picture?
When you investigate a complaint is your action plan followed through, are service changes made, when a patient/user makes a ‘helpful’ suggestion can you demonstrate the follow up and any changes?
Audit of your processes will enable you to see if you are making changes, making a difference to your patients.
On the 17 January the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee of the House of Commons published a paper entitled Will the NHS never learn? Follow-up to PHSO report ‘Learning from Mistakes’ on the NHS in England – interesting reading.
ISAS can help you prove you were listening to the patient’s ‘view from here’.
As February takes its toll in the stress of marrying finance and service delivery can you improve your ‘view from here’, can you use ISAS to underline your viewpoint? WHY not think about it.