The topic of continuous improvement (CI) is firmly back on the agenda for NHS Trusts and ICBs.

For some, that’s not an issue. Perhaps 10 per cent have shown themselves to be really good at this for years now. Another 30 per cent or so will have dabbled with CI with mixed results, delivering interesting but isolated improvements. But the initial enthusiasm often fizzles out, with no system in place to ensure it sustains.

That still leaves an awful lot of organisations for whom CI is something that’s traditionally been shunted into a corner, deprioritised behind a hundred other more pressing problems. And for ICBs this is all brand new and a major opportunity to drive system wide, consistent improvement.

For some, CI is confused with failed turnaround programmes that search for cost reductions and productivity gains that do not last and irritate staff. There is a way to deliver CI that focuses on strategic alignment; performance routines and behaviours; leadership development; and creating a problem-solving culture. Ironically, it helps solve the very problems that keep being prioritised over the creation of a long-term CI programme.

How can we help deliver a culture of continuous improvement?

We recognise each and every organisation is unique and needs a bespoke approach. There are some common principles and lessons that we have learned about creating a culture of continuous improvement.

Our approach has been developed over a number of years working alongside healthcare organisations to deliver outstanding outcomes. This is about making improvement part of the day job from CEO to frontline with the aim of improving care for patients and being a better place to work.

This combines to create a problem-solving, values-led CI culture. This is what makes CI sustainable; when it becomes part of the fabric of an organisation, resistant to future changes of leadership or shifts in strategic direction.

We have upskilled


NHS staff, at all grades,
in CQI techniques.


An acute Trust ranked in the top 20% of all Trusts for staff engagement in the NHS Staff Survey


More than 20% reduction in harm through administration and prescribing errors in another trust


An 80% increase in Same Day Emergency Care activity and a reduction in spent in department

Watch on-demand: Event in collaboration with Catalysis

Many UK Trusts have embarked on their continuous improvement journey, while navigating the global pandemic and starting to look forward to the future operating model for the NHS. During the event we reflected on:

  • What foundational truths have we implemented successfully? Where are the challenges?
  • Learning from COVID-19, why a continuous improvement approach is fundemental to our recovery?
  • How can a continuous improvement approach help us in the move towards integrated care systems.
  • How can technology accelerate our continuous improvement journey
Daily management & Incident Command Centre

Dr. Lucy Xenophon, MD, MPH, Chief Transformation Officer, Mount Sinai Morningside, USA

Making the change stick

Dame Marianne Griffiths DBE, Former CEO, University Hospitals Sussex

Aligning systems for sustainment

Kim Barnas – CEO, Catalysis, USA

How to lead a health system using lead principles

Dr Eric Dickson, MD, President and CEO, UMass Memorial Health

Lessons learnt and looking to the future

panel discussion

Further insights