Spotlight on Dr Jean Challiner

Dr Jean Challiner recently joined the Luto team and in this article we put her under the spotlight to find out some more about her:

Healthcare background 
I qualified as a doctor over 35 years ago and worked initially as a GP (General Practitioner) before moving into an Accident and Emergency unit. From there, I became Medical Director for NHS Direct working in a technical environment, which was a real eye opener. Instead of just delivering good quality healthcare to the patients in front of me or through more junior staff that I trained or supervised, I had the opportunity to ensure the availability of good quality clinical assessments by telephone to 11 million people. I realised that technology can make a big difference to the quality and efficiency of care and be cost saving.

I later worked for a company helping customers in the UK and across the world to implement telephone clinical assessment systems for the first time and with their pandemic flu solutions. From that time, I further developed a passion for providing patients with tailored information to meet their exact needs within their health economies.

Advisory role at Luto
The advisory role I have taken on at Luto is an emerging role. So far, I’ve been involved in a range of projects, including heuristic evaluation and coaching. Team coaching in particular is a passion of mine as it’s about how we work collectively to help us achieve more together. In addition, in other roles that I do, I see many opportunities where Luto can make a positive difference to patients, carers and families, so I intend to contribute those ideas to Luto as well.

Memories of working in the NHS
The NHS works very differently now compared to when I first joined, in terms of organisation and because of the Quality Agenda, so delivering high quality clinical care is a top priority. We now use clinical guidelines much more and recognise the importance of teamwork and learning from current practice. When I first qualified as a GP, I would have been horrified at the thought of having to manage a major trauma or incident because training as a doctor did not go to that level. The NHS has since heavily invested in urgent care and training to deliver it in a co-ordinated way. Systems such as Advanced Trauma Life Support and Advanced Life Support help you work together and use a systematic approach to assess and treat the patient to manage their care effectively and increase their likelihood of survival.

The supporting role of the NHS
You know the NHS is always going to be there. It might not be as fast as you want sometimes but it’s always there 24/7. To maintain the high standards within the NHS, there is still much to do. We rarely hear about the good news stories but there are many.

The NHS is supporting patients and families in lots of different ways. I see that in the Trust where I work, I see that as a patient myself and I see it when my family needs care. The NHS has got some of the most professional and dedicated staff in the world that give fantastic care. I do sometimes get frustrated as a patient, but it is usually over the small things, for example if I am unable to get an appointment or I cannot park. It’s those things, rather than the clinical care, which can be frustrating, but we still need to make all those other things work for our patients as well. We can always do better and must continue to develop services and improve outcomes for patients.

The changing NHS
These days, the NHS has to deliver more for less money. Although the budget for the NHS goes up all the time, the amount we have to deliver within that budget has far outstripped the increase we get. This is a global problem, not just within the UK, as we have an increasing population who are living longer because we can treat their conditions more effectively. We are now living until our 80s rather than 60s or 70s as it was some years ago.

The challenge that the NHS has with its staff is a big one – because we are unable to train people quickly enough in the traditional way, to do the tasks that were typically performed by doctors or nurses, the NHS has developed new skill sets and trained individuals to a very high standard to deliver particular tasks. For example, with non-clinical staff and healthcare assistants, who have been trained to deliver particular aspects of complex care for patients in their own homes and it works extremely well. My initial thought was ‘Is this a big risk?’ but then you actually realise that for some patients at home, it’s the parent, partner or daughter that delivers some of this care the rest of the week. Across the NHS and in other national health services, the NHS are also using nurse practitioners for some of the tasks traditionally carried out by doctors. If I think back to when I first qualified as a junior doctor, a lot of what I did then is now performed by nurses or even highly trained non‑clinicians, such as blood tests, fitting drips, heart trace recordings, and that is fantastic.

What can we continue to do to support the NHS?
There is a crisis with staff within the NHS and in addition, patients ideally want to be treated at home and also be well informed. For me, Luto is well placed to contribute to this agenda by providing useful, understandable information for patients and their carers, to help educate them to make properly informed decisions about their care. This can be achieved by exploring ways of making it easier for patients to access information and by providing the right information at the right time in the right format. We need to support patients in any way we can and being involved and engaged in NHS agendas will also help us to do this.

Message from the author
– Other ways to support the NHS include giving blood and joining organ donor registers – this is something the Luto team intend to get involved in. Look out for our pledges in a future article.
– The Luto team are also supporting the NHS’s Big7Tea initiative  by holding a tea party at our offices on the 5th July, all to be revealed…