Nurses win big in RCVS Knowledge Awards

13 May 2019

Three individuals have been crowned ‘Knowledge Champions’ and one veterinary team the ‘Champion Practice’ in the 2019 RCVS Knowledge Awards, which this year recognise those who have implemented quality improvement (QI) in practice.

Veterinary nurses made up half the winners, emphasising their importance to continually enhancing the quality of a practice.

Vets Now Macclesfield’s nursing team won the practice award for their work on improving general anaesthetic monitoring in an emergency setting.

The introduction of a quarterly clinical audit and tailored training for nurses has elevated the practice’s general anaesthesia and sedation monitoring to a comprehensive level of excellence, incorporating detailed notes and patient observations. As a result, the practice has suffered zero patient deaths or significant events related to anaesthesia or sedation.

The nursing team’s confidence in using multi-parameter monitors has grown, and individual nurses, including two recently qualified, have gone from minimal knowledge of ECG (electrocardiogram) readings to the ability to recognise complex traces. In turn, the veterinary surgeons have placed more trust in the nurses monitoring patients.

Upon winning the practice award, Principal Nurse Manager Lesley Moore said:

“The QI process has been hugely beneficial to our nursing team. It has increased the confidence of team members, ensured a high level of consistency for every general anaesthetic and, most importantly, has improved patient outcomes.”

The three individual awards were won by Louise Northway of Wendover Heights Veterinary Centre; Alison Thomas of Blue Cross; and Angela Rayner of CVS Group plc.

Louise, Clinical Nurse Lead, won for her dedication to continuously improving care by undertaking clinical audits; setting and reviewing protocols based on evidence; and instigating discussion and adoption of QI by the entire practice team.

Known to many as ‘Lou the Vet Nurse’ on Facebook, Louise highlighted the indispensable role all VNs can play in their practices:

“Registered Veterinary Nurses should feel empowered to take the lead on quality improvement in practice. Become your own clinical governance ambassadors and push for gold standard care for your patients!”

Alison, Head of Veterinary Services at Blue Cross, won for her project to deliver a consistent approach to diagnosis and treatment throughout the charity by developing guidelines for more than 60 common syndromes and conditions. The guidelines were based on the best available evidence and took into account ethical and quality of life (QOL) considerations.

Their introduction coincided with significant cost savings for the charity, placing them on track to treat an additional 2,639 animals.

“The development of a set of evidence-based, QOL-driven clinical guidelines at Blue Cross has helped to create a consistent approach and a pragmatic level of service, reducing the costs to the charity,” said Alison.

“Involvement of the whole team in their creation has been an excellent source of free CPD but has also ensured a sense of ownership and encouraged more critical thinking in the way we approach all our work.”

Clinical Services Manager at CVS Group plc, Angela was recognised for her role in cementing an annual controlled drugs audit across the group’s practices. In just one year, CVS’s drug discrepancies for ketamine and methadone improved more than ten-fold and six-fold respectively, and improved still further the following year.

BSAVA President Sue Paterson, stated “BSAVA congratulates the winners of all of these awards. We are delighted that the profession is embracing the importance of quality improvement within a practice environment in such a proactive way. The fact that 50% of the recipients of these prestigious awards are nurses shows what an invaluable role they play in the practice team”.

All applications went through a blinded review process; the review panel assessed them according to set criteria that looked at excellence of care, clinical and financial effectiveness, and the application of evidence-based approaches.

The awards will be officially presented at Royal College Day 2019 on Friday, 12th July at the Royal Institute of British Architects.

The 2020 Knowledge Awards, focusing again on quality improvement in practice, will open to applications on the same day. As with the 2019 Awards, applicants will be able nominate themselves or their team by submitting a case example of a QI initiative or project they have carried out. Alternatively, they can put forward a colleague for an award. Winners will receive a £250 prize, invitation to an awards ceremony and recognition for their work. Full details will appear on the RCVS Knowledge website on Royal College Day. For inspiration in the meantime, try out Knowledge’s quality improvement resources

Case examples of all of this year’s winning projects will be made available on the RCVS Knowledge website throughout Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month in May. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook @RCVSKnowledge to be the first to see them.