Hellen Farnell, Outpatient Department Manager, Stockport NHS Foundation Trust
What has been your route into the industry?
I have worked within the NHS since 1982, qualifying as a registered nurse in 1987. I took up my current post 3 years ago as OPD Manager within SNHSFT following staffing restructure.
Why have you become involved in your particular specialisation?
In 2011 we were successful in attaining the CSE award. One of the first OPD multi-specialist units to do so. I passionately believe that Out Patients services are pivotal to the continued sustainability and success of the NHS business model. I feel that as services develop and organisational cultures change the “front of house” and customer experience will become synonymous with the choices customers influence and our commissioners make.
What do you consider to be the biggest challenge at the moment and why?
One of the biggest challenges is addressing the misconception of OPD areas as one of lesser importance than inpatient areas. Out Patient areas in all NHS Trusts are possibly the only area some of our customers may see. All elective, and a significant volume of emergency patients will journey through OPD. For the majority of patients attending, their experience starts as an OPD clinic referral and concludes with a discharge from clinic. As OPD services we cannot afford to fail in using our biggest customer group as a resource for development of service; they are our greatest asset to development.
What do you consider to be the biggest threat at the moment and why?
The threat to the NHS organisation as a whole is the rapid pace of change and limited funding available to meet expectations of service users. Our main customer group has a choice to stay or find an alternative provider be it at a cost! We have to compete with the private sector, an effective and relatively cheap way of doing it is to improve our customer service delivery using the basics of common courtesy, manners and respect. Encourage customer feedback and act on it to develop services and improve our delivery.
Who will be most interested in the subject matter of the conference and in particular, your topic?
Out patient Department Managers and Staff, the culture of moving towards a customer focussed organisation is relevant to all areas of healthcare provision.
What do you expect your delegates to “take away” with them at the end of the conference?
Ideas to move forward to importance of customer service in the OPD setting including some of the work involved to be recognised. Share my passion to develop a service which is customer focussed within their respective Trusts.
Hellen Farnell will be speaking on Developing a Patient-Focused Outpatient Service: Ensuring Strong Customer Delivery at the Optimising Outpatient Services conference on Tuesday 10th July 2012 at DoubleTree by Hilton, Manchester.
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