Live Blog | Quest Connect


Welcome to the live blog for NHS Quest Connect! The annual coming-together of NHS Quest CEOs, Executive Teams, Workforce Leads, Site Leads and VIP guests to network, celebrate, share and learn.

The focus of this year’s event is to host a immersive communications and innovation workshop whilst also launching the new NHS Quest Best Employer brand which has been carefully developed over the past 12 months by NHS Quest members HR, OD and staff engagement colleagues in partnership with Professor Michael West, Head of Thought Leadership, The Kings Fund.

Follow this blog for the latest updates and to access resources from the day. Join the conversation on Twitter @NHSQuest and use #QuestConnect.

And we’re off! We are starting the day with a tour of The Landing MediaCityUK, visiting the Eagle Labs and Launch. The tour will get our participants out of their comfort zone to get their creative juices flowing. Showcasing the innovative spaces at The Landing, we are challenging our participants to think and act differently and embrace their creativity outside of the traditional NHS setting.

After a fantastic tour of the creative spaces at The Landing, we are back at Haelo HQ for the remainder of the day. Director of Innovation at Haelo, Abigail Harrison, leads our creative hacking session.

Abigail starts by asking our participants to take some time to reflect on their “peak” or proud accomplishment in their life. What did it feel like? What sounds did you hear? What smells are associated with it? Using your sensory memory, what was your peak? We hear from Josh Bamford, Communications Officer at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust, who spoke of his accomplishment around his new role in communications. We also heard from Kate Witt, Associate Director of Quality Governance and Risk at Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, who worked at a children’s hospice describing her time there as “the greatest achievement of my life.”

On that positive note, we break for a well deserved lunch.

We’re back! Before setting off on our tour earlier, we asked our participants to capture three ideas that are new to them, make them feel and think differently and indulge their creativity. Participants break off into groups to discuss the ideas that were captured. Abigail now leads a wider conversation through those ideas.

We continue to explore the possibilities of innovation by asking individuals how their organisation could be the best place to work in ten years time and the role of communications in getting us there. We heard from groups who discussed the condition of their office accommodation and the possibilities of shared spaces, flexible working and a creative hub area encouraging conversation and creative thinking.

Other groups discussed their access to information, the availability of technology and barriers within their IT systems, whilst balancing the idea of catering for new and old generations. Highlighting the need to enable staff to cope in a changing environment and flourish. Whilst others broke down the idea of culture and what that would look like in the ‘best place to work’.

Inspired by digital and innovative ideas, Stephen Miller and Tom Harvey, Haelo’s Multimedia Team are up next to facilitate a film making session. Groups are asked to translate their discussion and ideas for the future of their NHS organisations into film, continuing along the theme to be ‘the best place to work’! In a room of communications experts, their is an appreciation of the power and possibilities of film, so let’s see what they come up with!

From plants to play-doh, our teams weren’t afraid to get stuck in using props to get their message over in their own unique way. A fabulous film premiere was a celebration of creativity and what’s to come for the Quest Best Employer Brand. Take a look!

From 4pm, additional representatives from member Trusts, including board members, arrived for a networking reception ahead of the official launch of the Best Employer programme, now a core role in the quality improvement network. It is our overarching objective for the Best Employer programme is that each NHS Quest Trust should be in the top 20% of places to work as measured by the NHS staff survey, and should go on to raise employment standards to be and then beyond, the best in the NHS. The underlying objective is to gain a competitive edge in recruitment and retention as so many of the NHS’s challenges stem from workforce shortages.

But first, we welcome members and invited guests to the NHS Quest marketplace. We’re excited to host a session celebrating our achievements over the past year, themed by our four workstreams. In Leadership Networks, board members discussed Experience Days and learning from international organisations. At the Capability Building stall, our Senior Improvement Advisor, Kurt Bramfitt, showcased the ‘IS4’ programme, Improvement Science for Leaders, with posters showcasing the work of successful teams.

The Measurement hub saw a focus on the successful Falls programme, where Evaluation Manager Nadine Payne discussed sustaining change in a  clinical community. Whilst over in Improvement Programmes, Saffron Mawby, Chief Pharmacist from West Sussex on her learning experience of being a part of the Medication Safety Clinical Community and NHS Quest Improvement Fellow, Dr Cameron Whytock on his learning setting up the current Theatre Safety Culture programme.

Andrew Foster, NHS Quest Chair and WWL NHS Quest opened the evening following the marketplace with Zoe Egerickx, introducing our Best Employer journey and how we used the NHS Quest methodology to create the brand.  The vision is for the Best Employer Brand is for NHS Quest organisations to become outstanding places to work where staff flourish and patients experience the highest quality care. Andrew outlined our mission to take advantage of the great place that the NHS is and translate that in a way that’s meaningful to staff.

The programme, influenced and inspired by Professor Michael West, Head of Thought Leadership, Kings Fund and Florent Amion, Optimistic Hospitals Movement, has held 5 workshops, including the comms workshop today, to articulate what a great place to work is and turn it into reality. Today we hear of our sources of inspiration, formally launch and commit to self assessment and continuous improvement – developing the standards into an employment brand.

The Best Employer Standards is a document that organises the employment brand themes into three main headings – employment practices, career opportunities and culture, with a detailed criteria for each standard.

Professor Michael West captured the audience with a focus on compassionate leadership for compassionate health services. West expressed how system leaders who embody compassion can create the conditions for innovation by attending, understanding, empathising and helping, which in turn can encourage staff to use these behaviours to deliver quality compassionate care. He also highlighted the importance of teamwork stating evidence that proved teams that regularly take time out to reflect and develop their shared goals are much more effective, supportive and cohesive.

Stating he truly believes these qualities are at the heart of the NHS, the workforce and employment standards, Michael said that if people experience cultures that are compassionate, they will take those values and take them back out to their families and into communities, the potential impact is enormous. He continued: “I feel hugely privileged to be involved in this venture, compassionate leadership begins with us, for us to have the compassion and the resilience to be compassionate.

“There’s a lot of good work going on in all of theses drivers, but what it is focused on is building the sense of belonging, growth and development that’s so important for people’s wellbeing at work.”

Zoe takes to the front for the final time to close the event, running through measures, testing and brand development, saying “it’s not what’s just in the standards, but how we implement them that will make us outstanding, unique and exceptional – positioning ourselves better than best!”


Save the date! We already counting down to Quest Connect 2 on 14th November 2018, make sure to save the date.