Meet the experts: An NHS career has given Penny a valuable insight into how to improve outcomes

Penny Booysen started her health sector career working as a midwife in South Africa. She moved to Ireland where nursing took her into gynaecology and sexual health services and then to England, working first at The Lister Hospital, and then in community services. She returned to The Lister working in discharge planning and most recently has worked as a band 7 nurse at The Whittington Hospital.

Penny Booysen, Senior Consultant at Dr Foster

Bringing frontline insight to data analysis

I have worked and trained in a range of areas across acute and community settings, which has given me a unique insight into the pressures that everyone in the NHS faces. This really helps when it comes to understanding what is happening in the organisations we work with – whether hospital trusts, or commissioners. My NHS experience helps in particular when talking to clinicians on wards because I’m able to have conversations about clinical practice.

Having a national view gives a different perspective

Now that I am at Dr Foster, I am able to get a national picture of trends and anomalies in specific areas of the NHS. For example, I was recently involved in our work around sepsis. When you are working in a trust, it is often difficult to get a sense of what is happening at a national level – you can get tunnel vision and only focus on what is in front of you. I’m now in a position to be able to help trusts see the bigger picture.

Putting data to work

Working at Dr Foster has improved my data analytical skills, which combines well with my NHS experience. A good example of where this works well is mortality reviews. Every trust carries out mortality reviews, but I am able to link overarching themes and trends which may directly impact on patient care with trends in mortality ratios that otherwise might have been missed. This means that the learning from these reviews is more likely to have an organisation-wide impact.

One factor that is often overlooked is the way that this learning is communicated more widely. Having been part of multi-disciplinary teams, I know that everyone has a part to play when it comes to improving outcomes. So, I always do my best to share this experience.

Developing ideas for future projects

At Dr Foster we are looking at whole pathways of care and use data as a starting point for improvement. My experience of working across whole pathways is useful in this respect and it means I know who to talk to at each point in the project development. One of the areas we are focusing on is in ambulatory care and whether these units are helping to reduce pressure on other parts of the health system. This means looking at the whole systems and what services are available in the community, so it is interesting and varied.

My NHS experience helps in particular when talking to clinicians on wards because I’m able to have conversations about clinical practice.