Spiders are helping wards and departments us discover what is working and where improvements are needed, reports Suzanne Hinchliffe

If you are interested in performance, a spideris web takes some beating.

The webs - or spidergraphs - we produce at St Helens and Knowsley Hospitals trust may not be as magical as those spun by spiders - but they are certainly as useful when put to work by ward managers, department heads and frontline staff to improve patient care.

They demonstrate at a glance how each specialty or hospital is performing against both trust targets and patient care delivery standards.

The categories they measure give tangible assistance to staff who may not previously have received details of absence on their ward, the number of completed personal performance reviews or MRSA infection rates.

There may be all kinds of problems: leadership, the wrong staff mix, anxiety about working with high-risk, high-dependency patients and so on. It is only when difficulties are set out in a form as simple as a spidergraph that staff can begin to look for solutions.

The success of our spidergraphs has led to monthly reviews of selected criteria for all our wards. We have seen significant improvements across all clinical areas within weeks of use, a
sense of pride in staff achievements and a thirst for the next step forwards.

Suzanne Hinchliffe is deputy chief executive and director of nursing, midwifery and facilities, at St Helens and Knowsley Hospitals trust. For more details e-mailsuzanne.hinchcliffe@sthk.nhs.uk