The NHS Executive Strategy Summit was an opportunity for operational leadership teams from across the NHS to come together and explore new ways to reduce pressure on the NHS and improve outcomes. The implementation of new strategies for NHS Trusts includes, in some instances, collaborations with vendors such as KPMG. To highlight the role that companies like KPMG can play, Distilled Post spoke to Jenny Panes. Jenny is a partner at KPMG, specialising in Provider Improvement and Urgent and Emergency Care. She has extensive experience of management in the NHS and is a proud graduate of the NHS Management Training Scheme.

KPMG have worked with 20 NHS Trusts to co-design and roll out continuous quality improvement (CQI) systems. The conversation began with a discussion concerning what it is that Trusts need to do to implement CQI and ultimately deliver the best service to patients. “The NHS is really good at putting quality at the heart of everything it does”, Jenny was first keen to point out. But she acknowledged that the service is facing “even greater operational pressures” than usual: the continuing ramifications of a period of sustained industrial action over the summer, the fallout from COVID and a challenging financial landscape to name but a few. As Jenny asserted, “being able to keep quality at the heart of everything we do against that backdrop of competing priorities is the number one challenge for the NHS”. In working with 20 NHS organisations to set up a CQI system, she observed how each organisation placed patient safety, access, and outcomes at the heart of their strategy and vision. Quality outcomes for patients have to be “baked in” to any vision for CQI implementation. 

Jenny also identified the value of evidence-based planning and the benefits of using data to understand the challenges facing the NHS, as well as the things that each respective organisation are doing well. “We need to be using data and information management in a really proactive way, to understand our challenges and their true root causes and also to prioritise where resources are directed”. In the quest for improving practice, she also pointed towards the importance of learning and best practice. “Every time I visit any NHS organisation, there’s always something that I’m blown away by”. Despite this, Jenny conceded that “best practice examples aren’t always shared nationally, or even across a given region”. Some of the best work that KPMG has done recently with the NHS, Jenny surmised, involved sharing regional best practice for any given care pathway. In doing so, similar organisations facing similar challenges don’t need to start from scratch in devising a combative strategy; indeed often “80% of the thinking has already been done by someone else, and the energy can go on tailoring the intervention to a given population, workforce or trust”. This sharing of knowledge is something Jenny is keen to see more of.

The NHS Executive Strategy Summit on Tuesday 7th November was another space where sharing best practice, knowledge and experience came to the fore. Jenny was enthusiastic about the value of such an event: “the minute you bring colleagues together from different trusts and different regions, automatically, there is benefit in the shared learning; peer support, new ideas, old ideas that you can often make even better. So I think just by virtue of putting experienced colleagues together, we always become greater than the sum of our parts”. The value of collaboration is embedded in KPMG’s approach to working with NHS clients – improvement / management systems are co-designed with Trusts to maximise ownership and engagement. Jenny reiterated that vendors like KPMG  serve to empower the job that NHS staff do -  “The phrase that our NHS clients often use is that we help them to “remove the rocks from their shoes”, so frontline teams can really make the change that they want and that patients deserve”.