Why Team Working Matters In The NHS

The NHS is one of the largest organisations in the world.    Even a small NHS Trust would be considered large compared to the majority of organisations.  Given the size of the organisation, it takes a lot of people working together to achieve anything.

For example, think about the number of people involved in getting a patient through an operation:

  • The process probably started when the patient went to see their GP.
  • To get to see the GP, the person had to book an appointment through reception.
  • The GP might have asked for some blood tests to be carried out.
  • A practice nurse or phlebotomist would have taken the blood.
  • The blood samples would need to have been analysed in a path lab.
  • Results would have needed to have been sent back to the practice.
  • The patient would probably have called and spoken to the practice about the results.
  • The GP may have identified that the patient needed to be referred to a specialist.
  • A booking would have to be made for an outpatient consultation.
  • The patient would need to be informed of the appointment.  Chances are a letter would have been created, which would need to go through the hospital and then external mail system.
  • When the patient was due to attend, someone would need to make sure that any medical records were available.
  • The patient would need to be booked in when they arrived.
  • The Consultant would need to see them and decide the next step.
  • If the patient requires surgery, they will have to go on to a waiting list.
  • Pre-operative assessment checks need to be carried out ahead of surgery.
  • The patient needs to be admitted and allocated a bed.
  • Pre-operative visits need to take place; arrangements need to be made to ensure that the patient does not eat for a defined number of hours before the operation.
  • The patient needs to be physically moved from the ward to the theatre.
  • The theatre team needs to be in place.
  • The surgical procedure needs to be completed.
  • Arrangements need to be made to transport the patient back to the ward.
  • Care needs to be delivered on the ward, including Consultant rounds.
  • Medications on discharge need to be arranged.
  • Other home support might be needed with other parts of the health service and, potentially, social care.
  • Letters need to go to the GP so that post hospital care can be delivered.
  • Cases need to be clinically coded.

In other words, there are a huge number of people involved in just this one process.

Imagine if just one aspect of this process does not work.  It would mean:

  • Delays in diagnosis.
  • Treatment not starting early enough.
  • Tests having to be performed more than once.
  • Wasted or unused slots in outpatient clinics.
  • Delays in starting theatre lists and potentially cancellation on the day.
  • Distress of patients at a time when they are already anxious.
  • Delays in discharge resulting in more infection or bed sores.
  • Medications not being ready when the patient is ready to go home.
  • GP not having the full picture so that he or she can deliver post discharge care.

Bottom line:  In a highly labour intensive service like health, team working is not an optional extra.  It is essential to the delivery of the best possible patient care.

Goals and Achievements help healthcare organisations deliver great performance through great team working.  Learn more here