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Dr Tricia Woodhead Associate Director for Patient Safety

Organisation: West of England Academic Health Science Network

  • Quality Improvement Fellowship
  • 1

About me

Tricia is a Quality Improvement Fellow and Associate Clinical Director for Patient Safety the West of England Academic Health Science Network (AHSN).

Tricia spent 24 years as a Consultant Radiologist in the NHS.

She graduated from Southampton Medical School in 1979. Following three years in general medicine she commenced radiology training at University College Hospital in London. In 1988 she spent six months as a visiting fellow in CT and paediatric imaging at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. After a short period as a consultant at St Helier Hospital in Surrey, she moved to the South West.

She set up a comprehensive ultrasound and CT service in her hospital in Weston Super Mare, utilising the model of strong radiography and radiology teams delivering cross-sectional imaging using set protocols and clear processes and systems of delivery. 

She completed her MBA at Bath University in 2000 graduating with distinction. Her dissertation using Systems Dynamics applied to complex health care delivery won the 2001 Systems Dynamics Society Student Prize.

For 12 years she was Medical Director and Director/Quality and Patient Safety at an acute NHS Trust.

She is a Health Foundation and IHI Quality Improvement Fellow and Improvement Advisor, having been awarded the Fellowship in 2010. Her Fellowship commenced with a year secondment with The Institute of Healthcare Improvement based in Boston, Massachusetts. 

She was Medical Lead for the South West Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Collaborative from 2011-2014. This region-wide programme across acute, community and mental health services used the IHI Breakthrough Collaborative Approach and succeeded in reducing HSMR across the region by 15% in four years through a system wide and systematic approach to implementing quality improvement methods.

She is currently Associate Clinical Director for Patient Safety the West of England AHSN, Improvement Advisor to Zero Suicide South West (HSJ Patient Safety Winner 2016) and Improvement Advisor and Faculty to Wessex AHSN in their Patient Safety Collaboration Programme.

From April 2013 to January 2016 she was the Patient Safety Advisor to the Royal College of Radiologists. The College reviewed its focus on safety guidance and she contributed to the National Safety Standards for Interventional Procedures.

In 2016 she worked for the Royal College of Physicians advising and guiding the development their Quality Improvement Hub.

She is currently on the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges Working Group on Quality Improvement as they put into practice the guidance from their 2016 report Quality Improvement Training for Better Outcomes. She is Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the University of Bath, working with The School of Management on systems and networks in health care.

During her fellowship, Tricia intended to look at models of chronic disease management. Chronic disease is an area that has had less focus and is creating increasing resource demands due to demographic change. Providing access to excellent care for those with long-term illness is a major challenge in the South West. The geographical distance of patients from the provider of care is an issue. In addition, many rely on elderly carers and local communities that are themselves under pressure. The balance of technology, face-to-face discussions and shared goal-setting can be redesigned with clinical and patient/user groups to build robustness.

Tricia intended to learn from work on transfers of care and the management of care in partnership with patients as well as improved communication between primary and secondary care and the patient. The use of improved communication skills in clinical teams and with patients has been shown to improve outcomes and reduce dependency.

She hoped to develop her own skills in supporting and coaching teams in continuous improvement, with a main area of focus around the interface between primary care teams and specialist teams. She planned to explore how teams develop safer ways of sharing and/or transferring care to ensure greater patient involvement.   

Tricia said, ‘The demands health care makes upon society are substantial: integrating teams in new ways and using technology as well as improving communication skills are the key to safer and better care in long-term conditions. Flexible, respectful team-working is the glue holding any service together. Developing and nurturing that glue is imperative for ever better patient care. That team should include the patient wherever possible.’

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