The winners of the Joint Working Pf Award 2018, Senior Coloplast Care Nurse Ruth Christer and NHS Partnership Manager, Coloplast, Jonathan Walker, on the positive patient outcomes that come from working together.
Congratulations on your Pf Award win, how did it feel when your name was announced?
RC: I was stunned into silence; literally lost for words!
JW: It came as a real surprise given the quality of entrants within our category so I was delighted when our names were read out.
What does winning the Pf Award mean to you?
RC: It is a huge honour, especially as it is such a prestigious award. In fact, I don’t think I realised how prestigious it was until after we had won!
JW: It is an honour to win such a prestigious Pf Award and have our project recognised. We set out a few years ago with an idea of gaps within the patient pathways and have developed this service to address those gaps and provide patients living with a stoma with access to specialist nurse reviews in their GP Practices. It sounds simple, but we’ve had to navigate a number of challenges and ensure that what we do day-to-day provides patients with the very best experiences and outcomes. Our success within the initial project in partnership with NHS Northumberland CCG has resulted in over 4000 patients across 30 CCGs benefitting from our model of care.
How did your path to pharma begin and what have been your career milestones to date?
RC: I worked for 22 years in the NHS before joining Coloplast in 2015, and I would have to say that winning this Pf Award is one of my career milestones.
JW: I’ve always been fascinated by biology and science, what can go wrong and finding solutions to fix things. My path to pharma was also inspired by my Uncle Ray, who used to work in the industry and highlighted that this was a career that was interesting and rewarding with scope to develop and challenge.
I think the people I’ve worked with over the years have been the most significant highlight, such as Emma Carling (I believe she is still at Ashfield), who had faith that someone who’d worked in retail had sufficient potential to take a punt.
Tell us more about your joint working initiative.
RC: The Stoma Partnership Programme continues to develop and is now being developed for continence care. Jonathan and I are seen as the pioneers and are often called upon to give advice regarding the implementation of this project in other areas of the business and how to encourage other stakeholders to participate.
JW: We continue to learn from our existing projects to make them more efficient and improve outcomes and have taken our key learnings to develop services that will help patients using catheters to address their own clinical challenges such as UTIs and antimicrobial resistance, in line with the NHS agenda.
What positive effects have you seen in patient outcomes?
RC: The Stoma Partnership Programme has a positive impact on patients’ lives, providing them with access to clinical reviews and specialist advice. This helps to improve clinical outcomes and quality of life. It also provides me with immense job satisfaction knowing that this really does make a difference to patients.
JW: We regularly see patients who have not had a specialist nurse review for 10-15 years and have consequently lived with sore skin and leakage for years, accepting that that’s just the way things are now. We’ve seen patients who have needed to take two spare pairs of clothes to work due to leakage, and following a review with Ruth have left the house for the first time in 25 years forgetting they were even wearing their stoma bag.
What can be done to improve delivery of the NHS’s Long Term Plan?
RC: Collaboration with stakeholders is crucial. There needs to be open, honest dialogue – pharma is often perceived as a threat to the NHS and there is always speculation and suspicion about commercial gain. What this project has taught me is that by working together we can be stronger and this needs to be developed as part of the Long Term Plan; being transparent and delivering outcomes which not only demonstrate commercial gain but most importantly improved clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction.
JW: One of the challenges we continue to face is the age-old scepticism from NHS of industry. The more we can do to be open and honest that there is a commercial benefit for our expertise and services the better. It’s been a key learning for me in this partnership working and I am acutely aware of the need for compliance and confidentiality, but as an industry we can be over cautious and stifle entrepreneurial thinking and ideas.
What motivates you?
RC: I am motivated by the knowledge that what I do has a positive impact on patients’ lives. When I see a patient in clinic who hasn’t seen a Stoma Nurse for 25 years and has been struggling with loss of confidence and low self-esteem due to an ill-fitting stoma appliance, I can change that by listening, assessing and finding the right appliance for the patient’s needs. It can be life-changing for the patient and makes me feel like I’ve got the best job in the world!
JW: It’s not everyone who gets to say they’ve landed their dream job, but something I can! I am privileged to work as a small part of a much wider team and business that all go to work every day knowing that we are making a positive impact on patients living with intimate healthcare needs.