This Advanced Clinical Practice Week (Monday 8 November – Sunday 14 November), hospitals in Lincolnshire are celebrating and recognising the amazing care delivered by teams of highly skilled and experienced advanced clinical staff.
This advanced level of practice is helping to transform and modernise patient care and embrace the sharing of skills across traditional professional boundaries.
United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust has spent many years investing in the development of Advanced Clinical Practitioner roles (ACP) in its hospitals. This has resulted in significant opportunities for delivering high quality patient-centred care within Lincolnshire. It has also created career development opportunities for colleagues and many service innovations that are being recognised nationally.
There are currently 200 ACPs employed by the Trust, who are easy to identify by their green uniform and scrubs. They all have advanced education, advanced clinical training and a wealth of experience.
ACPs come from a range of professional backgrounds. In addition to nursing and physiotherapy, Lincolnshire also has paramedic, operating department practitioner and pharmacy ACPs. Many work in areas that are the first point of contact for patients coming to hospital, including acute medicine, cardiology and emergency care. However, there are also ACPs working behind the scenes, including in areas such as reporting radiography and many other roles that may not be as visible to most patients, but are just as vital.
Working in partnership with Health Education England, the Trust has invested more than £1 million over the last five years in supporting all of its ACPs to achieve a master’s degree level education. This means that Lincolnshire patients are seen by practitioners who are not only highly experienced, but also highly educated.
Consultant Nurse in Cardiology, Professor Alun Roebuck, said: “In Lincolnshire we have worked hard and been very successful in developing a highly talented and highly skilled ACP workforce. This means we can deliver the best care to our patients, offer clinical colleagues a robust career ladder and attract staff from outside of the county.
“The value these ACPs bring to the team cannot be underestimated. They have a wealth of experience treating and caring for patients, that is reinforced by the academic knowledge and qualification provided by a master’s degree. The standard of care they provide is second to none.”
The Trust’s ACPs are building a reputation nationally as a team to watch. They:
• Delivered care to more than 40,000 people in 2020.
• Led the development of national clinical practice guidelines with colleagues at the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
• Developed new treatments and published academic research in scientific journals and presented at national and international conferences.
• Advised and supported other hospitals, both the UK and as far away as New Zealand, in developing new and innovative patient centred technologies. This includes implanting heart monitors after a stroke to allow the detection of dangerous heart rhythms remotely from the comfort of a patient’s home or wherever they may be.
Director of Nursing and Deputy Chief Executive, Dr Karen Dunderdale, said: “The experience our advanced clinical practitioners bring is invaluable. Their dedication to developing their knowledge and experience to be able to provide the best care for their patients is an inspiration to others.
“This year we are funding and supporting 23 new trainee ACPs in a variety of clinical settings that include emergency medicine, heart failure and urology to study for their master’s degree.”
Dr Dunderdale added: “This Advanced Clinical Practice Week, I would personally like to thank all of my colleagues across the Trust who provide advanced clinical practice, for the care they provide to patients and the support they give to the rest of the team.”
The Trust recently developed and appointed Melanie Kendrew to the new role of Senior ACP in Clinical Education to support the developing workforce. Melanie said: “It’s fantastic the Trust has invested in supporting the training and career development of our ACPs. This is something that we are doing in collaboration with the University of Lincoln and the Centre for Advanced Clinical Practice at Health Education England.”
Senior ACP in Surgery, Laura Perrin-Brown, who leads the admission avoidance team said: “By appropriately managing patients and by introducing new pathways our ACPs have reduced the need for patients to be treated in hospital by more 50% in the last three years. This means that we are then helping to free up hospitals beds and reduce waiting times for those needing surgery.”
The Trust is also investing time, training and resources into other areas of advanced clinical practice which is transforming the care and experience of patients.
Consultant Sonographer and Clinical Lead for Ultrasound, Catherine Kirkpatrick, explained: “Through our ‘rapid diagnostic’ service we are not only able to reduce the time patients wait for a cancer diagnosis, but equally as important is how we are able to reduce anxiety by telling people they don’t have cancer much quicker too.”
Consultant Echocardiographer, Waheed Akhtar, added: “By developing the stress echocardiography service for our heart patients we have been able to give them a diagnosis without the need to expose them to radiation through more traditional screening methods.”
Radiology Operational Manager and Lead Reporting Advanced Clinical Practitioner, Paul Clark, said: “Thanks to our Reporting Advanced Practitioners we have been able to implement the National Optimal Lung Cancer pathway reducing our reporting and CT pathway to within four days as opposed to the four weeks it was previously. This has significantly improved outcomes for our lung cancer patients. We have also recently trained seven CT reporting radiographers who are now providing out of hours reporting for our patients who have head CT scans. This has improved the experience of our suspected stroke patients and the treatment they receive.”