Collaboration: The importance of porters and their influence on improving clinical services

NHS representatives Paul Barritt, Security and Portering Manager at Northampton General Hospital and Luke Cosgrove, Assistant Hotel Services Manager at Wrexham Maelor Hospital recently joined GV Healthcare for a forum to discuss collaboration within the NHS and the key to its success

The healthcare environment has gone through drastic changes ever since the pandemic started 18 months ago. Healthcare workers have seen changing demands across all sites brought upon by unprecedented activities and expectations caused by Covid-19. Essential but often overlooked service areas within the NHS such as portering are now beginning to receive the recognition they deserve via greater collaboration across different teams, allowing more departments to see and realise how important and valuable their skillset is when it comes to enhancing patient flow and resource management.

“Initially there was some fantastic changes in the dynamics within the site and across the site where people got involved in things they necessarily won’t be responsible for. Portering in this time had a lot of support and gave a lot of support as well” Luke Cosgrove said during the GV Healthcare forum. Porters have always played an important role when it comes to moving patients efficiently and safely throughout their hospital journey on a daily basis and the pandemic has only amplified how crucial their role and skillset is when it comes to improving patient flow.

Similar patterns of increased porter support and recognition has been observed within the Radiology department of Northampton General Hospital. Barritt recounts how “The support for the portering services went through the roof from all the wards and departments” as other departments had begun to realise how much porters actually do. Even in the days of COVID fatigue, it’s clear that collaboration within the NHS has continued and more departments continue to realise that porters are the key to completing activities across sites as they’re equipped with skillsets for moving patients, staff and resources across sites efficiently.

The technology-driven collaboration between portering team and the clinical team is vital to facilitate quality care and patient safety. Northampton General Hospital’s portering aided by MyPorter, a bespoke portering tool, gained better understanding on how both departments operated through the use of the readily available data the system provided.

“It’s showing us a proper and true figure how busy radiology could potentially be and it’s making us have these much higher level of conversations with other departments” Said Paul Barritt, who along with his portering team after implementing the MyPorter system, has found it easier to keep communication lines open with clinical teams and gained better insight in understanding clinical pressures and clinical needs. The system also allows them to work in tandem to come up with solutions on how and what way is best to move the patient and make sure the Trust’s patient flow is moving efficiently and effectively.

Proactive communication and constant feedback are also crucial when it comes to keeping the current momentum of collaboration. As more departments realise the importance of the portering team, departments from all levels are now involving porters in more decision making. More and more Trusts are now beginning to realise that portering teams and their input at an early stage is the key to success.

Holding a monthly stakeholder collaborative session where each department would nominate a representative who would address their team’s concerns and share their perspective would help to influence future decisions and plans so that the feedback given by each department about their needs and perspective is taken into consideration so that new projects will be designed with moving patients efficiently in mind.

Previously, with no input from the porters, two new wards and buildings were beautifully built at Northampton General Hospital, but it was only later realised when porters walked through the building that there were 5-6 sharp corners which patients on a stretcher wouldn’t be able to be manoeuvred round by porters, and that the floor caused traction on the stretcher. A monthly meeting would provide the Trust with great feedback resource to prevent an occurrence similar to this from happening again.

Paul Barritt said: “Porters are now heavily involved in the opening of the new ICU ward to help understand the patient flow on that area, which is pivotal to providing that quality service for the wards”. The Portering Voice Champions programme is designed by the Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust to nominate 5-6 representatives for porters to raise issues and concerns during their monthly meetings. The programme allows them to relay information to everyone in the team efficiently and provides a way to raise their concerns to senior management and collaborate together to solve them.

The key is to maintain stability while encouraging honest discussions and problem solving through good communication and frequent feedback to ensure staff feel that their ideas and contributions are acknowledged and valued by the Trust which in turn will help motivate staff to keep the momentum of collaboration within the NHS.

If you would like to watch the full forum, please follow the link below: www.globalviewhealthcare.com/post/forum-2-gv-healthcare-hosts

For more information on MyPorter and how it can benefit your hospital, please visit: www.myporterlogistics.com

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