Matt Camilleri is an anaesthetic registrar and education lead for the National CLEAR programme. He’s passionate about getting more of his fellow clinicians involved in making changes for a better NHS. In this blog, he explains how all healthcare professionals can play their part in bringing about transformational change, whatever their role, grade or experience.

The NHS is truly unique and that uniqueness makes it both highly valuable and a source of substantial pride to the staff that work within it. I’ve been a doctor for 10 years now and have worked in multiple healthcare systems and organisations both in and out of the UK. Aside from the uniqueness of the NHS, what has been evident in my journey is the complexity of a 75-year-old national system providing almost every healthcare need for a changing population. It’s doing this job exceedingly well, but as we know the NHS is battling challenges on many fronts.

These challenges are similarly of a complex nature – a growing aging population, increasing patient complexity, a shift from acute to chronic disease, low workforce morale and difficulties in retaining staff, to name but a few.

From this complexity comes the question: what’s the solution? The answer is there’s no single one. With all the current challenges in the NHS, there’s a risk of complacency about trying to improve things. I know many NHS staff feel galvanised to make things better – they just don’t know where to start.

Having experienced how these challenges are impacting on patient care, the morale of staff and the variations in how different regions and organisations are attempting to tackle them, it’s understandable that many staff feel a top-down approach to solutions is not the way forward. They know that local needs and context require bespoke changes to achieve evidence-driven outcomes and goals.

This is why the CLEAR programme is one of the solutions which has inspired me to become part of the drive to improve our NHS. I’d like to see as many NHS colleagues as possible – representing all disciplines and aspects of care – similarly inspired because I truly believe that together we can make a real difference both in terms of our own working lives and, most importantly, in terms of improving services for our patients. We all deserve nothing less.

I’ve always been passionate about quality improvement, education and training as a way of embedding practice improvements to achieve better outcomes. I’ve been part of the development of CLEAR for the last five years and have seen first-hand the power simple ideas executed in the right way can have in tackling complex challenges.

By combining hard data with real-life experience and stories from frontline colleagues, a CLEAR project can develop viable, innovative solutions. Not only can this approach enable excellent diagnostics of issues and building of solutions, it also provides evidence for the impact and value of change, both in terms of productivity improvements and better patient care.

Many clinicians working in all areas of physical and mental health can see the issues and should be empowered to examine the evidence for change, develop solutions and make a compelling case for what changes need to be made in a way that managers and leaders can engage with. If you have a strong desire to put right what you see isn’t working in your workplace, you’re the perfect person to get involved in CLEAR transformation work.

A good starting point is our one-day CLEAR Essentials online course which is based on a CLEAR project case study, taking you on a step by step journey through the methodology. Using a blended learning approach of interactive tutorials, e-lectures and discussion, the course helps to build skills needed to analyse complex problems and design innovative new models of care to improve patient outcomes and the efficiency of services. Whether you’re an old hand at transformation or someone wanting make changes for the first time, CLEAR Essentials will give you insights into some great approaches to quality improvement and transformation.

Not only is CLEAR about trying to support change, it’s also about trying to embed the key skills required for complex transformation work within the NHS and it does this by training staff to succeed in their projects. This has been the aspect I’ve been most heavily involved in and am most passionate about. Historically, healthcare professionals have been expected to get involved in or even lead quality improvement programmes without receiving the necessary skills and knowledge. They’ve either had to learn on the job or programmes have been left to a handful of specialised individuals.

With the continuing emphasis on integrated working, I’m excited to see how CLEAR can affect change at this level. The potential for innovative approaches to joined-up working across community, primary, secondary care and social care is a key aspect of CLEAR, providing a real opportunity to bring about meaningful and sustainable changes in the face of highly complex challenges.