It was business as usual in Worthing Hospital, as staff on the Botolphs ward took part in their daily team briefing.
But this time, they were joined by a very important visitor – Lord Prior of Brampton.
The minister for NHS productivity visited the hospital, which was rated outstanding in the latest Care Quality Commission report, to see what makes it one of the best.
The team improvement huddle on the Botolphs ward, which treats stroke patients, is one innovation in a trust-wide series of overhauls that have taken place over the last three years.
Staff and family members of patients are invited to suggest ways to improve efficiency and quality of care, which are noted on a whiteboard in the ward corridor and discussed in each huddle.
This is one reason that the ward is currently ranked seventh in the country.
Lord Prior said: “There’s a feeling that everyone is engaged – consultants, nurses, people doing the cleaning, therapists, it’s a whole team – and the openness of it all: everyone feels they can ask questions and raise concerns. That isn’t driven in all hospitals.
“There’s also the statistics at hand to back it up, so it is systematising improvement. This isn’t a case of having a great idea one week and then forgetting about it the next.
“There has to be a culture in an organisation that enables this to happen.
“This could be destroyed very easily if someone said ‘there isn’t time for huddles’ but it takes a long time to really embed it.
“I find it extremely impressive.”
During the visit, Lord Prior also visited the A&E department, which met the four hour treatment target set by the Department of Health.
Nurse Johanne Migley led the improvement huddle. She said: “It has empowered the staff to be engaged in this project and they feel they are heard right to the top.”
Johanne mentioned an idea put forward by a cleaner regarding the organisation of bins on the ward.
It was implemented and has saved the department money on waste disposal.
“This is why the housekeeper gives ideas now, because they feel they will be heard,” she added.
In April, Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust became only the third hospital trust in the country to achieve an outstanding rating from the CQC.
Marianne Griffiths, chief executive of the trust, said: “I cannot praise my 6,500 colleagues highly enough.”