Fridays with a difference

eileen_sillsProfessor Eileen Sills, Chief Nurse and Chief Operating Officer at St Guy’s & St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust, is known for strong, visible, clinical leadership. Her drive to take senior nurses back to the bedside earned her a national reputation for her Clinical Fridays initiative.

A unique experiment was started at Guy’s & St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust in May 2006, taking all senior nurses back into clinical practice one day a week. This sees over 100 nurses, including the Chief Nurse, working together clinically every Friday. Three years on, this is now well embedded, a part of routine practice and has received national recognition.

It is very important that senior nurses are clinically credible and up-to-date just like our senior doctors. It is also important to our patients and the public – who valued the role of the Matron – to see senior nurses on the wards. After losing this aspect over many years, this initiative has regained much of that ground.

Every Friday, all our senior nurses leave their offices: no emails are answered and no meetings attended. They work together across the Trust to support staff, monitor standards of care and attempt to resolve problems staff are experiencing by enabling and facilitating them to take action and to think creatively to resolve problems.

A meeting is held each Friday afternoon at which senior nurses and other staff discuss the previous week’s clinical indicators and share best practice.

This way of working has made an enormous difference. The patient is returned to the heart of the organisation, staff feel supported and we are able to respond to any problems around standards of care very proactively.

Effective relationships have been built with other staff groups, such as our facilities staff, who participate in the initiative. We also now run major change programmes and undertake audits of practice.

This has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done. The difference we have made is enormous and I am very proud of our nursing and midwifery workforce. This is not about compression five working days into four; it’s about working differently and smartly on a Friday. After all this is why we are here.