By Professor Stephen Singleton, Director of our Learning and Improvement Collaborative

LOC in the Lakes 5 was a fantastic day. This year it took place on 3rd March, at Rheged as always, and was attended by over 160 people.

Everyone is under enormous pressure. The combination of increasing demand (from a combination of an ageing population and new things we can do!) shortages of people and gaps in funding - and 20 years of building tighter governance and effectiveness/safety procedures - has left every team and every service under pressure. Something needs to change...

We heard from Helen Bevan, Chief Transformation Officer for the NHS, who reminded us about the need to keep learning, keep looking outwards and use our natural diversity to learn more and think differently - to use improvement tools to get gains, but also to transform the way we work where we need to.

And the diversity of workshops through the day was designed to help the delegates learn and reflect on those themes. From better use of Microsoft Outlook (and the tyranny of emails) to Tai Chi; from ‘Model Hospital’ to the Cumbria Production System - we looked at the challenge from many angles. We also heard the stories of practitioners, from GPs to ward managers, on how they had changed and improved the ways they work to gain time and build capacity to care.


Alan Martyn, the NHS National Director for Lean Transformation gave us a fabulous insight into how the methods of organisational commitment to a supportive culture, an aligned management system and the rigorous application of improvement tools, works in all sectors for all kinds of work - perhaps especially for healthcare! Stewart Gee from the Trust Innovation Group at Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW), closed the day with an equally inspiring run through the 12 years of disciplined transformation his Trust went through to get from the darker days of “toxic culture”, access nightmares, money and many other quality issues to become the outstanding - and always learning, always improving - organisation they are today. Together they reminded us that the ‘manageable day’ is far from just a personal responsibility but is also a corporate leadership task; that the techniques of organisational development and continuous improvement all do work - and will be transformational - but they require consistent, disciplined and long term application.

The immediate evaluation was incredibly positive. Everyone took positives away; everyone enjoyed the day (and the great band!) and everyone found some hope!

Videos and presentations from the day are available to view and download at: 

Thanks as always to the Academic Health Science Network for North East and North Cumbria (AHSN NENC) for sponsoring the event - we really couldn’t hold the day without their support.

Thanks also as ever to the team for putting it on and the speakers and workshop leads for contributing - but as always, thank you to the delegates for making LOC in the Lakes 5 such a great event.