Allan is a consultant physician/cardiologist and Associate Medical Director at NHS Forth Valley, where he leads on emergency and inpatient services. He assists in the delivery of the organisation’s quality strategy to improve services for patients and staff.

Originally from Belfast, Allan completed his medical training in Dundee in 1982 and has lived and worked in Scotland since then. He became a consultant at NHS Forth Valley in 1994 and took up his current clinical leadership responsibilities in 2009.

Allan has been chair of NHS Forth Valley’s Area Clinical Forum since 2005 and is a non-executive member of the health board. He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1995.

New perspectives

Allan says that his experiences on GenerationQ have enabled him to take a more strategic view of health care improvement. 'The programme gave me the confidence to explore improvement issues from different perspectives and to ask different questions. It was particularly interesting to have the chance to explore improvement challenges with people from different parts of the health care system – it quickly became clear that we shared many of the same problems, just in different contexts.

'When faced with a problem, the approach I now take is a great deal more considered and balanced than it was previously. I’ll often seek out information and evidence to help me to understand things more clearly. Before GenerationQ, I didn’t really appreciate the wealth of quality improvement information that’s out there and how it could support me in my role.'

Redesigning services

Allan explains that taking part in the programme has led him towards a more inclusive style of leadership. 'I’ve learnt that leadership in an organisation that’s constantly evolving and striving to improve its services isn’t about saying to people, ‘make this change’; rather it’s about asking, ‘how can we change together?’

'One area that I’ve been exploring is how to improve the experiences of frail older people in hospitals. As part of a wider hospital improvement programme, we’ve been looking at how we deliver emergency care and how we can provide a service that meets the particular needs of frail older patients. I’ve put many of the things I learnt through GenerationQ into practice, for example giving clinicians responsibility and ownership of the issues in order to create the right conditions for solutions to emerge from within the team.'