Raj Kumar

In this month’s Clinical Leaders Network column, Dr Liz Hughes talks about using the CLN to improve training for doctors. NHS West Midlands has taken a strategic approach to clinical service development and has designed its CLN to support its vision for implementing the next stage review and Investing for Health. It is also focusing on improving care for people with dementia or a learning disability.



In the four months since the NHS West Midlands Clinical Leaders Network first met, it has helped us take an innovative approach to patient safety - involving medical schools and a state of the art simulation facility.

In our discussions, it emerged that different clinicians had all experienced a similar challenge: they perceived that although junior doctors coming out of medical school had a lot of theoretical knowledge, they didn’t always have the practical skills they needed to apply it. This meant they had to be very closely supervised. People round the table felt we could achieve better quality and safer care if we could improve new doctors’ practical skills.

These discussions have kick-started an exciting initiative to develop junior doctors’ competencies

These discussions have kick-started an exciting initiative to develop junior doctors’ competencies. Together with the Hollier Medical Simulation Centre, West Midlands SHA has put a bid together to extend its pilot programme that trains doctors during the foundation years. The centre offers simulation training covering everything from communication and basic procedures to managing team-working in an emergency situation. Now, as part of our pilot scheme, we will investigate whether it is best to give this simulation training in the foundation years or in the final year of medical school. 

We’ve also been working with the medical schools. Together with Birmingham University School of Medicine, we’ve been developing a clinical skills competency passport. This will allow doctors moving into their foundation years to keep track of the competencies they acquired at medical school.

As well as patient safety, the CLN is also helping NHS West Midlands with its regional vision - Investing for Health. As part of the West Midlands quality group, I’ve been involved in developing pathways for conditions such as head injuries and using them as templates for changing other services.

Working with the CLN has been invaluable for this - working with different clinicians, hearing what they have to say, and understanding the problem from their perspective. For me, that’s very exciting - and why I believe the CLN has an important role to play.

Clinicians understand how to deliver quality care. They understand the problems and they probably already have some of the solutions. Coming together in action learning sets for the CLN means we break down professional boundaries and dare to think innovatively. The network helps people bring their ideas to the table.