New Zealand Follows Wales' Innovative Lead; Geraint Martin Left His Job in the Welsh Assembly Government to Head One of New Zealand's Largest Health Boards. Speaking as a New Patient Safety Campaign Is Launched in Wales, He Told Health Editor Madeleine Brindley Why the Welsh 1,000 Lives Campaign Is Making a Difference to Patients Half a World Away
Byline: Madeleine Brindley
HE MAY now be working on the other side of the world but Geraint Martin has never lost his hiraeth for the Welsh health service.
As chief executive officer of the Counties Manukau District Health Board in New Zealand he is responsible for delivering the best possible healthcare for a diverse population of 500,000.
A strong advocate for patient safety and quality services Mr Martin has been keen to introduce innovation into New Zealand health services - including from Wales.
He has found inspiration in his homeland and the patient safety work developed and delivered as part of the two-year 1,000 Lives campaign.
"There is no doubt that Wales is leading the way in making real changes," said Mr Martin, who began his career at Singleton Hospital, in Swansea.
"The complete mobilisation and engagement of staff at all levels in finding new ways of working that improve the patients' care and experience has been spectacular.
"Staff have been empowered to make a difference and this, coupled with strong clinical leadership, has made a strong impact which is being watched not just in New Zealand, but around the world.
"The processes of the healthcare system have ground down the vocational aspect of the job and everyone who works in health needs to get this back."
Many improvements from the 1,000 Lives campaign, which ended in Wales last month, have already been introduced in Counties Manukau Health Board, which covers the southern region of Auckland and is a similar in size to Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.
Among the initiatives now in place on the other side of the world are the care bundles, the surgical safety checklist and schemes to reduce pressure ulcers and falls. Regular executive WalkRounds, which see senior members of the board visiting frontline services, have also been introduced.
The extensive work by Welsh GPs to improve chronic heart disease and medicines management has been paralleled in New Zealand.
Mr Martin said: "The most important step now is to spread the best practice so that wherever you are in Wales you can receive the same level of service.
"In New Zealand we use something called the granny test, which means everything has to be good enough for a member of your family to receive.
"If it isn't, then we expect our staff to take responsibility and have the power to make a change that will ensure the service passes the granny test.
"Spread doesn't happen by accident. You have to design it, you have to give it momentum, you have to know where you are going and why you are going there. …