Building capability for improvement by building networks at Q Initiative

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By Sophie Bulmer – Guest Blogger
Network Development Lead, UCL Partners

Networks can be a great way for people working in healthcare to create knowledge, exchange information and share learning.  By crossing the traditional professional and organisational boundaries, networks can encourage collaboration, deepen learning and help to spark innovative approaches to problem solving.  The potential benefits of building communities and collaborative approaches are increasingly being understood in healthcare and at UCL Partners we are supporting this by developing a network of improvers across our partner organisations.

Building on the existing and growing networks established through a range of activities, our aim is to develop a vibrant community of people who will use their shared skills and knowledge to promote an open organisational culture to stimulate and encourage improvement.  We want to expand on the opportunities staff across the region have for learning more, creating connections and tackling the barriers to improving the quality of health and care and outcomes for patients.

So how are we achieving this?

Our approach is to offer a range of opportunities, varying in structure and commitment, but all offering the time and space that people need to connect.  To give you an idea, here is an overview of three such opportunities.

Our Improvement Fellows Programme, which is now in its third year, brings together local individuals from a range of organisations and roles who have the enthusiasm, motivation and capability to drive improvement within their organisations and beyond.  The programme connects people, provides an opportunity for open dialogue in a safe environment, offers time and space to reflect and plan, and gives opportunities for more tangible learning and benefits.

Building on our learning from the Improvement Fellows Programme, last year we launched the UCL Partners Aspiring Improvers Programme, a new initiative which aims to create a network for people starting out in improvement.  The programme provides training and development to help participants build their skills, knowledge and understanding of improvement.  In addition, it will connect people at the start of their improvement journey and provide opportunity for them to learn together, helping them to see the benefits of crossing traditional organisational and professional boundaries.

A third example of our work in this area is through our involvement with the Q Initiative, which is a UK-wide community of people with improvement expertise, led by the Health Foundation and supported and co-funded by NHS Improvement. Q’s mission is to foster continuous and sustainable improvement in health and care.  To achieve this, there are opportunities for people to come together and form a community – sharing ideas, enhancing skills and collaborating to make health and care better.

The community is made up of diverse range of people including those at the front line of health and social care, patient leaders, managers, researchers, commissioners, policymakers and others.  This boosts the power of Q as a source of innovation and practical problem solving by including a wide range of perspectives.

Q was designed together with 231 founding members.  This helps ensure it is genuinely useful to the diverse range of people leading improvement.  Q will continue to evolve –being shaped with and by the community as it grows.

How can you get involved?

There are currently have over 2,000 members across the UK and there will be an opportunity for more people to join Q in June – we’ll be encouraging people in the UCL Partners region to apply, so if you would like to know more please get in touch by emailing me at

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