The right decision

8 November 2018

On November the 1st 2018 it was our 7th Birthday! We celebrated 7 years since we became an independent social enterprise.

Dates and anniversaries always provide a time for reflection so here are mine.

Many people look at what we did, breaking away from Tower Hamlets PCT, as being brave, as a mark of extreme confidence in our abilities. As with many decisions in life, ‘right’ ones are just the obvious direction, even if it is hard work. Right decisions just make sense. The events and choices pivot around that central decision and on the reason that it rests.

For Accelerate had in effect had a comprehensive service since 1994. We had built up an amazing multidisciplinary team. We knew of our waiting list from other boroughs. We knew of the need. We knew that the merger with an acute hospital would put all of this at risk. We knew that our unique take on compression and gait was needed by patients and we wanted to see more people have access to this life changing environment. We did not want to lose this. We did not want patients to lose this. But there were lots of things we did not know; but we did have the bravery to not rest our actions on the unknown unknowns!

Persevering through dragon’s dens and hoops to prove that we were a safe bet was no easy task. But when you have your eye on a prize, on that mission, it makes it quite straightforward. But crucially it is the whole team that drives it. Everyone had their role in making Accelerate happen, who took on the risk: Denise, Mark, Taf, Winnie, Caitriona, Fran and me. Christine was our consultant who helped us focus on our opportunity and she joined us in 2015.

So a great deal has happened in these intervening years. We have grown to around 30 members and diversified further. We have increased our reach into surrounding boroughs. Patients are referred from far and wide. We have a fantastic education programme and have started clinical research.

But the mission of changing lives remains the same. Our belief that ‘it does not have to be this way’ remains. This has meant that we have dug into this further, understanding the role of exercise, the impact of gait and falls, the importance of self-management and self-belief, the strength of data. We have also developed models for working alongside trusts and clinicians to bring about fabulous partnerships that have transformed lives. Data capture of success spurs us all on.

So 7 years on, we are proud of our achievements. But we are equally excited about our future. Every team member is clear on their role in our journey, their purpose. One of our aims this year is to ensure everyone gets off the conveyor belt of healthcare provision to stop and reflect, to create, to sit with our Patient Partners, to drive the change that we need to make. Because it is clear that Accelerate’s strength is built on the creativity of its people.

We will no doubt have more difficult decisions ahead. The healthcare environment is not easy, with the nursing workforce in crisis and various parts of the wider system jockeying for position. We will need all our skills of flexibility and creativity! But as long as we remain tethered to our mission and our people, the decisions we need to make will once again be straightforward. We do not see ourselves as victims and thus none of us in Accelerate give up easily.  All we see is opportunity to bring change and transform lives!