A PIONEERING system devised in the North-East to spread positive feedback amongst NHS staff is being adopted at hospitals in other parts of the country.

The “Excellence Reporting” system, launched across the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, has had a “huge impact” on morale.

And, a year after its inception, it has been adopted by around ten trusts around the country, as well as others in the North-East.

The system was the initiative of Consultant Anaesthetist Dr Richard Hixson, and Jennie Winnard, the Trust’s General Manager for Therapies, and created by health sector software company Ulysses.

All trusts have an online incident management system, which Ulysses provides at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust.

Dr Hixson was struck by the fact that there was no facility within this to record the numerous ‘positives’ which occur every day.

“I’d see reports in high-level meetings, highlighting staff who’d been named in a positive way for something they’d done.

"But until I forwarded the feedback to the people concerned, they had no idea they’d had been praised,” he said.

At the same time, Mrs Winnard was frustrated by the lack of any formal mechanism to thank staff for going the extra mile, and she’d become aware of a “learning from excellence” initiative at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

When she overheard Dr Hixson talking about the need for a systematic way of sharing positive feedback, she suggested they worked together.

The result was the Excellence Reporting database, which is a simplified version of the trust’s Incident Management system, and believed to be the first to be accessible to a whole trust and not just a specific department.

It involves staff inputting details of positive actions they have witnessed and naming the colleagues responsible. Those employees are then emailed to notify them of the praise from their peers.

The system is broken down into care groups and reports are produced monthly, although data can be accessed at any time. In the first 14 months, 1,365 reports were received.

The next phase will be to extend the system to the wards, opening it up so patients and relatives can also provide positive feedback. Postcards have also been introduced as a print alternative to using computers.

Dr Hixson said: “Staff who feel appreciated will be more energised to innovate and, ultimately, that leads to better patient care.”

And Mrs Winnard added: “It’s really important to make someone’s day and receiving an Excellence Report makes someone’s day because they can see that their efforts are being noticed. It’s had a huge impact on morale.”