Olivia Samuel

"We have worked hard to take our outpatients department from ‘Good’ to ‘Outstanding’ but this is just the beginning."

Last Friday, The Christie heard that we had been rated as an Outstanding trust by the health regulator, The Care Quality Commission (CQC).In amongst this detailed report, we found out that the outpatient service had improved from Good on a previous inspection to Outstanding this time, I was absolutely delighted with this both personally and for my team.

It is a true reflection of how dedicated our staff are at providing outstanding care to our outpatients every day. The outpatient team has worked hard and has consistently tried to improve services since the previous inspection in 2016 when it was rated Good.

Over the past year, we have worked diligently as a team to be the best we can be and try to lead the way in outstanding, compassionate care. We are particularly proud that the CQC found the outpatient service to be very responsive to patients and well-led, giving these areas of focus the highest possible Outstanding rating. These are both areas that have undergone some of the biggest changes.

As a team, we were proud to showcase the work we have been doing with patients to improve the services in the department and gain their feedback for opening our new unit. We also had the opportunity to show inspectors our exciting new facilities that will open shortly.

My personal passion for outpatients came following treatment that I received from this hospital in 2016 for breast cancer. I had worked in the hospital for 12 years within the inpatient setting and until this point had been unaware of the extent of the activity that happens in the outpatient setting.

As I stepped into the hospital as a patient, I was surprised and overwhelmed at how scared I felt. How could I feel so lost in a place where I knew my way around and knew so many people? How could I be so scared of the treatments and symptoms that I regularly reassured people about? My amazing colleagues wrapped their arms around me and carried me through it all, but not because I was a colleague, it was because they cared and wanted to do this for every patient. Compassion and care are embedded in all the staff.

My family liked to joke that I was given cancer to be The Christie hospital’s ‘secret shopper’, just a very extreme experiment to evaluate the service! But this was actually a good coping strategy and when the matron role became vacant in outpatients, it became the perfect opportunity to turn the extreme experiment into positive action. I could use my experience of visiting six different hospitals and over 30 different departments to lead The Christie’s busy outpatients department and help to improve it from Good to Outstanding.

As a department, we felt very determined to prove to the CQC how we believed the department had improved.

For me, outpatients became one of the most important parts of the hospital, the place where I received the most significant news throughout my treatments. The place where I can still remember word for word what people said, the expressions they used, the rooms I sat waiting in and the thoughts that all those things provoked. Outpatients’ is the place that provides the first impression of the amazing care that is given, it’s the place that trust is built upon, and the place where we need to get it right every time, for every patient, to make a horrible time easier for our patients.

Thank you and well done to everyone who has helped us achieve this outstanding rating, including the valuable feedback from our patients.

October 2018