Publish date: 19 April 2021

‘I can’t imagine doing anything else’ – in the latest blog, Anji Kingman talks about her role as clinical outcomes manager

Based at Hexham General Hospital, the key part of my job is PROMs – patient reported outcome measures, which tell us how patients feel that they are doing.

It’s about turning the responses to ‘How are you today?’ into a number so that we can measure change, from before an operation through to after.

PROMs can then provide important information on individual patients which can be passed onto consultants where necessary as well as providing a database of outcomes, which can be analysed and used to help make decisions on treatment or for teaching.

I’m responsible for elective orthopaedics – around 2,500 procedures a year, and there are currently 12,000 in the system, featuring patients at all different stages of their journey.

I’ve been at the Trust since 2004 and have spent the last six years doing this, having previously been in orthotics. It was a brand-new role and as far as I knew at the time, no one else was doing it, although I’ve found out subsequently that a couple of other trusts started around the same time. 18 months ago, Nicola Watson joined the department to work alongside me and has quickly become an invaluable asset, as well as a really great colleague.

The orthopaedic consultants have very much driven this programme from the start, so it’s down to them, and their support and encouragement, that it is such a success. Additionally, we could not manage to collect PROMs on this scale without the assistance of admin and nursing staff across the trust so we are very grateful to them.

I really love my job and I couldn’t pick just one part of it that I most enjoy, as it varies all of the time. From creating charts and diagrams from the data so that it starts to tell a story to bringing new things on board and figuring out how to do them, from getting to know surgeons’ work to making a difference to patients. We do read every form; everything is read and passed on where it needs to be.

It’s not an easy job, with the hardest part being the fact that there is no PROMs school, the resources and education aren’t there, we have to do it ourselves and learn as we go.

Twitter has been a game-changer though as I started to see other people talking about PROMs, which led to us helping to set up the National PROMs Network, which has been shortlisted for Operations and Performance Initiative of the Year at the HSJ Value Awards 2021. The winners are announced in September, so fingers crossed!

Another key part of my role is that I provide feedback for staff, as they don’t always know what happens to patients once their part in their treatment is over. I firmly believe that people need to know that patients really do appreciate them and what they do.

Following the initial period of lockdown last year when the national directive prevented elective procedures from taking place, the teams were operating at approximately 80% of normal and it’s now about 120% of normal.

For those first three months or so, there were no pre-operative PROMs being done other than emergency spinal procedures, but it was more important than ever to do post-op checks as it provided a safety net at a time when other contacts with patients were reduced and restricted.

The last year has been tough and I’m tired, but I can’t imagine doing a different job.

Covid is going to have really pushed the boat out in terms of PROMs, as it is gaining more widespread uptake in all areas of healthcare, not just in orthopaedics, and here at Northumbria we are leading on some really important national projects. Watch this space!