Ringing the Changes at The Medical Specialist Group

DESPITE THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC PLACING AN EVER-INCREASING AMOUNT OF PRESSURE ON THE HEALTHCARE SECTOR ACROSS THE GLOBE, HERE IN GUERNSEY, THE MEDICAL SPECIALIST GROUP (MSG) IS DETERMINED TO REALISE ITS AMBITIOUS PLANS TO IMPROVE ITS OFFERING TO ISLANDERS. GYONE MET GARY YARWOOD, MSG CHAIR AND CONSULTANT IN ANAESTHESIA AND INTENSIVE CARE MEDICINE, JON BUCKLAND, CEO, AND DONNA LE TISSIER, TRANSFORMATION DIRECTOR, THE DRIVEN TEAM AT THE CENTRE OF PLANS TO TRANSFORM GUERNSEY’S HEALTHCARE PROVISION.


Discussing the purpose of the transformation, Jon explained, ‘The MSG has fantastic foundations on which to build, but there is always room for improvement. It’s about not just accepting the status quo. We have a contract with the States of Guernsey to provide secondary healthcare services and we need to make sure we deliver the value for money and service that islanders want and deserve. We want to be internationally recognised as a centre of clinical excellence that is loved by the Guernsey community and that means continuing to develop and improve.’


While the pandemic has thrown the global healthcare system into crisis, Jon recognises that with disorder comes opportunity. ‘The last two years of the global pandemic has been a challenge for everyone, but it also presents opportunities to look at how we can do things differently for patients while continuing to put them first. It’s about developing new services or improving existing services, streamlining processes and ensuring we have the best facilities, equipment, and people.’


MAKING SURE MSG IS A GREAT PLACE TO WORK

Implementing change can often be seen as disruptive and daunting, but the team recognises that change will fail unless those at the heart of transformation - colleagues working on the front line - are brought along on the journey. ‘A successful transformation means making sure that the MSG is a great place to work that invests in its people so that in such a competitive healthcare market we can attract and retain the best.’ says Jon. Collaboration and communication are key components of the change strategy; the team meets with MSG partners and staff regularly to ensure that everyone can contribute and remains well-informed of progress. ‘We understand that we can find solutions by coming together in partnership and sharing information, which we do regularly. We appreciate the value of working together to implement positive change.'


While delivering value for money is a main focus of the transformation, with a growing demand from an ageing population, meeting all requirements can be a delicate balancing act. Dr Gary Yarwood explained some of the current challenges.

‘The number one priority for most patients is to receive a high standard of clinical care, which requires high-quality doctors. Therefore, recruiting and retaining them in a competitive market, with a national shortage of consultants, is a main focus for the MSG.

‘The next priority for patients is to receive that quality care promptly; the challenge here is the resource versus demand, so we put a great deal of effort into being as efficient as we can.’ Gary explained that the complex needs of individual patients are often one of the biggest challenges. 'As people live longer, and with the advances in medicine, they are more likely to be living with complex conditions. For example, a recent patient with a chest infection and emphysema I was involved with also had diabetes and the heart condition atrial fibrillation, for which they were anticoagulated. This made treating their chest infection much more challenging and every patient brings their own unique circumstances.'


A FIRM FOCUS ON IMPROVING THE PATIENT EXPERIENCE

Healthcare is expensive, with extra resources hard-won, but the team has a firm focus on improving the patient experience and the benefits of modernisation are myriad. As Gary explains, ‘The larger ICU and the new operating theatres in the hospital modernisation programme will reduce cancellation rates for patients. The new maternity ward is next to theatres, which will reduce decision to delivery times for emergency Caesarian sections. Additional operating theatres will also enable their maintenance without cutting capacity and a second ultraclean laminar flow theatre for orthopaedics will allow joint replacements to be performed on two lists at the same time. This extra capacity will make inroads into the overlong waiting times for joint replacements.


Beyond this structural modernisation, any transformation comprises numerous other factors. Donna was keen to emphasise that every element of the project is underpinned by the MSG’s values: putting patients’ needs first, committed to patient safety and clinical excellence, working as one team, and using resources efficiently. While digital transformation is a key component, the team recognises the need to focus on this cultural transformation and put its people first. Donna explained, ‘For technology to be valuable and effective we need to have culturally adapted to be ready to adopt and sustain it. The focus on cultural transformation will mean that we have prepared our people to be increasingly flexible and adaptable.


If we provide systems, information, and the intelligence to adapt quickly, we can be increasingly agile in adapting to the community’s needs and any large-scale crisis like Covid.

'We also recognise that transformation and change need to become a culture of continuous improvement and that going forward, we won’t be standing still as we must always be collectively looking at how we can be better at serving the community.’


Digital change still remains a strong factor, as Donna continued, ‘The main digital solution will be the replacement of the current Electronic Patient Record (EPR) with a new EPR solution working in partnership with HSC. This will vastly improve the patient journey, enabling a seamless experience. However, what we won’t be doing is considering technology and new digital solutions in a vacuum: it will be part of the wider organisational transformation strategy so that we are always focussed on putting the patient first with a clear sense of what we want from the technology and how it helps us to achieve the strategic objectives and live the organisation’s values.