A Local Story - NELA team progression in Leeds

The NELA Project Team wanted to share with you a story we have received from one of the NELA Participating sites:

NELA Team Progression in Leeds

For the first 3 years we, as anaesthetic leads in Leeds, negotiated 2 days per month to spend on NELA. This was purely data collection with no time for quality improvement due to the 400+ cases we do each year.

After another crazy winter season in 2016 frantically locking data for the January deadline, we decided we'd had enough! Our key was to find a manager (Head of Nursing for theatres) who fought our corner.
We didn't want a data clerk; we wanted someone who could provide perioperative care. A business plan was approved for a nurse coordinator, we interviewed and Kate Varley joined us in June 2017.

Claire Schofield
Indu Sivanandan
NELA Leads for St James's University Hospital

I have been a surgical nurse for nine years. Since 2013 until June this year, I was a sister on a busy female general surgery and colorectal ward. I am passionate about nursing and enjoy the specific challenge associated with complex general and colorectal surgical patients. This interest sparked my curiosity regarding the NELA coordinator role. This opportunity presented a new and exciting challenge: a 'never been done before' role and the chance to establish a new service.

On embarking on the role, I encountered many challenges. There was no job description, no job title and my role on the ward and in theatre was not recognised by other members of the multidisciplinary team. I was trusted to define my job description myself. I came up with the title 'Emergency Laparotomy Nurse Specialist'; I was adamant I didn't want to lose my identity as a nurse and still very much wanted to be clinical, alongside driving quality improvement projects. Overcoming the problem of my role recognition is an ongoing problem. I have started overcoming this by presenting at local audits, MDT education evenings and a theatre innovation conference.

During the time I have been in post I have identified several key areas in the management of emergency laparotomy patients that demanded improvement. Patient experience, care of the elderly laparotomy patients and ensuring accurate data collection. We have made great strides in improving this and I look forward to further developing this otherwise neglected part of the service.

Kate Varley
Emergency Laparotomy Nurse Specialist
St James's University Hospital