I have been working for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals for almost 8 years now. In some ways the time has flown by, but in looking back a lot has been achieved over those years. In many ways this is testament to the commitment of my colleagues, many of whom take on the voluntary role of Patient Information Lead on top of their substantive clinical posts and I could not do my job without them.
Since working for the Trust I have been passionate about supporting our staff to do a good job when providing patients with information. Most of the leaflet development in our organisation is undertaken by Specialist Nurses, Consultants, Physiotherapists and a range of other health professionals. I’m acutely aware of the time this takes and that their first priority is the patient in front of them. This is why I’ve been keen to ensure that the infrastructure which is in place to support patient information is robust and the task of creating and updating information isn’t a burdensome one.
I’m really proud of the staff I work with. I’m incredibly lucky to work with colleagues who are passionate about their work and want to produce good information. We are one of the largest Trusts in the country with over 15,500 staff, providing over a million operations and appointments each year. This generates a lot of information, at the last count over 1500 of our own leaflets and a similar amount of externally sourced leaflets were recorded and accessible on our Intranet and website. To manage these resources effectively we have in place 2 part-time members of staff dedicated to patient information (myself and my colleague) but more importantly our network of 150+ Patient Information Leads. Each Lead takes responsibility for information in their area and agrees to be the main point of contact for approving new leaflets and ensuring they are updated.
To support our Patient Information Leads a range of resources have been developed over the years including:
- A range of guidance on the Trust intranet (including Easy Read, other languages and formats)
- Automated email reminders for leaflets approaching their review date
- Online access to the status of leaflets in development (tailored to each Lead)
- Intranet and website access to both locally developed and commonly used external leaflets (over 3000 in total)
Our biggest change in recent years has been the adoption of an online publishing system. This has been a radical change in the way we produce information but has put control back into the hands of those who write and give out the information. Leads and nominated authors can now create and edit their leaflets online and preview the finished leaflet as a pdf at the touch of a button (very similar to the process of creating a card on MoonPig). A quick review by the patient information team takes place next and once approved the leaflet is electronically sent to Xerox for printing and uploaded to our database for Intranet/Web access. The whole process of creating a leaflet has been transformed over the last year with a huge reduction in the time taken to get from initial draft to printed resource.
As always there is still room for improvement and we are now looking towards the future and how we can be more responsive to the way patients want to engage with our services. This will inevitably involve more technology so it will be exciting to see what happens next.
PIF is always a great source of inspiration and I will be looking forward to hearing what colleagues in other parts of the country and other sectors are involved in when I attend the next conference. I’ve been a member of PIF for 8 years now and without them I would feel very isolated and disconnected. As it is, I have a great extended set of colleagues who collectively have a fantastic wealth of knowledge and experience I can tap into. So if I don’t know, I usually know someone who does!
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals
Patient Information Publishing System (PIPS)