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Winners of RCVS Knowledge Awards 2020 announced

In a welcome piece of positive news in these difficult times, three veterinary teams and one individual have won the title of Knowledge Champion in the second year of the RCVS Knowledge scheme that recognises dedication towards continuous improvements in practice.

Vale Vets, PDSA and the Animal Health Trust have been crowned Champion Practices for their Quality Improvement initiatives. Their work included the development, implementation and assessment of audits, guidelines, checklists and enhanced communication. These interventions have led to improved patient outcomes, increased client satisfaction scores and increased team unity.

Louise Northway of Wendover Heights Veterinary Centre has won the individual award for the second consecutive year, highlighting her dedication to continuous quality improvement.

In only their second year, the Knowledge Awards have been established as an industry accolade, with more applications received this year from individuals as well as from independent, corporate and charity practices.

Vale Vets were recognised for their continued implementation of clinical meetings and QI initiatives that help the team to work as one. Their application discussed their work on several audits, in particular post-operative complications and hand hygiene; using pre-existing guidelines; and developing their own checklists. Vale Vets encourage all team members to be involved in QI, allocating time during quiet shifts for data collection, and promoting a just culture within the practice.

PDSA received the award for their national auditing of pain relief guidelines, cruciate surgery outcomes and incident reporting. Their work in this area showcased improvements in adherence to pain relief protocols; reductions in lost-to-follow-up cases for post-cruciate surgery patients; and the role of audits in providing an evidence base at a practice level for treatment options.

The small animal theatre team at Animal Health Trust were acknowledged for their work to improve surgical safety systematically. The team adapted the World Health Organization’s Surgical Safety Checklist to enable success locally in their different patient population systems. Their application highlighted continued efforts to secure a whole-team surgical safety culture. These included the creation of champions; the provision of continuous, relevant training (included as part of new staff induction); and the implementation of novel techniques to ensure greater compliance in swab and instrument counts. Their combined efforts resulted in reductions in serious surgical errors.

Louise Northway of Wendover Heights Veterinary Centre, known online as ‘Lou the Vet Nurse’ from her popular Facebook page, is a winner for the second year in a row. She retained the individual Champion title for her leading role in auditing post-operative neutering complications, and using evidence-based veterinary medicine to implement updated guidelines that reduced complication rates by half. Her consecutive win highlights an excellent example of an improvement approach that is delivered continuously, rather than a one-off heroic intervention.

Louise said, “Since my QI journey began in 2017, year on year its importance in practice continues to grow. To win an RCVS Knowledge award as an RVN for clinical audits work for the second year in a row means so much to me. I feel enormously proud that RVNs can be recognised in making key clinical changes and improvements in regards to patient care in practice, thanks to the evidence provided by clinical auditing and other quality improvement practices.”

Seven individuals were Highly Commended:

·        Meghan Conroy of Brook House Vets

·        Sandra Hunt of The Laurels

·        Liron Levy-Hirsch of Vets Now

·        Kay Lockwood of Riversbrook Vets

·        Sam Thompson of North Downs Specialist Referrals

·        Holly Warrilow of White Cross Vets

·        Lizzy Whiting of City Road Vets

This year also saw the creation of a new category ‘Highly Commended – One to Watch’, to recognise promising applications from practices laying strong foundations for quality improvement, but which have not yet been able to demonstrate that that their work is leading to improved outcomes. This title was bestowed on Millhouse Veterinary Surgery and Hospital and Newnham Court Equine Clinic.

All applications underwent a blinded review process, which involved assessment by an expert review panel against set criteria related to excellence of care, clinical and financial effectiveness and the application of evidence-based approaches.

Chris Gush, Executive Director of RCVS Knowledge, said, “The commitment to quality improvement shown in this year’s Knowledge Awards applications is impressive and encouraging, particularly in these difficult times. Congratulations to our worthy winners for demonstrating the power of QI to make tangible improvements to patient outcomes, and to the newcomers acknowledged this year.

“The awards are just one way in which we are delivering on the recommendation published in our major 2019 report into QI in the veterinary professions, to foster the sharing of best practice resources and skills with the ultimate aim of enhancing QI uptake. We are looking forward to working with our champions in the coming year to bring their QI skills and approaches to the industry.”

Pam Mosedale, Chair of the RCVS Knowledge Quality Improvement Advisory Board, added: “We are delighted with the quality of applicants this year – the winners clearly show the importance of quality improvement as a set of continuous, whole-team activities. We hope their examples spur on our colleagues throughout veterinary practice teams to take their QI work to the next level.”

Case examples of all this year’s winning projects will be published on the RCVS Knowledge website. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook @RCVSKnowledge or sign up to our newsletter to be the first to see them:bit.ly/intheKNOW

The awards are scheduled to be presented officially at Royal College Day 2020 later this year.


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