Debbie Guy influences change on a large scale by solving problems through software.
Debbie Guy would not be the kind of nurse you’d expect to leave a 20-year NHS career in hands-on nursing to work in a software company.
“I am a typical nurse,” she says. “I don’t like gadgets and ICT and anything that makes clinical work harder for nurses. So if I can use one of our solutions, it must be simple to use.”
Ms Guy left Nottingham University Hospitals Trust in October last year to become the senior nursing consultant at Nerve Centre Software, a company that helps hospital trusts improve productivity and quality.
“I wanted to be a nurse since I was a child and used to volunteer at the St John Ambulance. I initially started work as an auxiliary nurse in an NHS elderly care hospital for four years, then I worked in retail in senior management for five years and only trained as a nurse after I had my two children,” she says.
“Despite the challenges I’ve faced in the NHS, I have always known that my decision to become a nurse was right for me.
“I loved the time I spent in the NHS and am very proud of the work I have achieved – most recently leading a change programme for out-of-hours working.
“In my last year at Nottingham, I had the privilege of speaking at the European Parliament and at the trust’s annual public meeting.”
She reiterates: “I will always be a nurse, and still have a zero-hours contract at the hospital in Nottingham where I worked. Leaving the NHS is a big decision, but the only thing that upset me was the thought of leaving hands-on nursing.”
And although she still does a few nursing shifts to maintain her registration and loves it, she says her new job at Nerve Centre is just as fulfilling.
“I love to make a difference – that’s why I went into nursing. But now I go into a meeting with a trust and I see how we can really make a difference to patient safety and productivity.”
Ms Guy’s week involves going to a different trust every day, from Aberdeen to Portsmouth, sometimes working shifts with the staff to fully understand their problems and help them realise simple, effective solutions.
“I believe we should all share best practice and my new role allows me to influence change on a much larger scale.
“We deliver bespoke solutions as required or install one of our core programmes to help deliver improved ways of working and help trusts realise much more efficiency and governance in the way they operate.”
Solutions include: optimising the emergency department using automated systems to notify and reorganise staff when there are busy surges; ensuring staff know when blood tests become available to prevent delays in treatment; porter management and Hospital at Night, which manages how activities are distributed to a clinical team; ensuring urgent requests receive priority treatment; informing coordinators of the status of all activities; and optimising night-time staffing needs.
“More recently, we have been doing some very exciting work in paediatrics around observations and escalation, which will have significant clinical benefits.
“Just as I did with patients and their relatives when I nursed, I say that I will always answer any questions and try and find out any answers that I don’t know.
“It makes a difference to the relationship I have with patients and relatives if I am open and honest. This translates well into my new role.
“I think we should be better at sharing ideas, listening and valuing people’s input. That is what my job is all about. It’s a buzz.”