Julie Reed is the research strategy manager for the National Institute for Healthcare Research CLAHRC (Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care) for north west London.

She is based at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, which hosts CLAHRC, and works alongside academic and health care organisations to explore how to translate research into everyday practice.

She helped to develop the CLAHRC programme, which is led academically by Imperial College London.

Julie’s project

Julie believes that academics need to ‘share responsibility’ for sustainable service improvement with NHS organisations.

A trained chemical and biomedical researcher with experience of running chemical laboratories, she has a PhD in the intelligent design and development of novel anti-cancer therapeutics.

She now oversees ‘collaborative working’ between seven academic disciplines and 17 associated research staff and is passionate about her work.

As an Improvement Science Fellow she is examining how improvement science can support frontline staff to put evidence into practice to deliver better care.

Delivering better care

She says many complaints over poor quality care stem from the way services are designed, a lack of joined up working or ineffective communication by doctors, nurses and other staff.

But it can be hard to design a high quality service when there are many people involved, performing different roles in various settings.

‘Improving one small part of the system will be influenced by many other factors, so it can be hard to predict what is going to work best’.

Julie believes quality improvement tools and methods could help frontline staff and patients work collaboratively to solve these problems. However, there is uncertainty as to how well these work and they are not used routinely in the NHS.

She explains: ‘We need to understand how effective the tools are, what actually happens when staff (and patients) use them, what they find difficult or easy to do and whether we can demonstrate that an improvement has been made?’

Her research proposal seeks to answer these questions. She aims to develop a scientific framework that will help learn from existing quality improvement projects and programmes; support the effective use of tools and methods; and improve education and training to allow more staff in more settings to successfully use quality improvement.

Julie was appointed as research and development manager at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in 2007. She developed an active interest in patient and public involvement in research and staff and public awareness of research in health care.

She has been a leader in the establishment of a Centre for Healthcare Improvement and Research based at Imperial College that aims to support evidence based health care improvements.

She says: ‘Creating space for ideas to emerge is a great skill which I would like to develop further, as part of my professional development, to better lead people to find solutions’.