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SDP Database: Progress with the development of Service Delivery and Practice database

SDP database - the aim
SDP Database - coverage
Entry Criteria
Practicalities
Good progress so far
Comment

In Issue 1 of ImpAct, Jennifer Dixon described plans for the NHS Learning Network. The SDP database of good practice in service delivery is one part of the Learning Network. When the NHS Learning Network was being planned, two key questions had to be addressed if real progress in spreading good practice was to be achieved:

♦ How can people working in the NHS find out about good practice and experiences in other parts of the NHS?
♦ How can people working in the NHS tell their colleagues about their experiences?

The chosen approach was to create a national mechanism to record and locate examples of local initiatives. The SDP database is intended to offer a shortcut to knowledge about good practice around the country and discourage people from reinventing wheels! Other elements of the NHS Learning Network are exploring the essential issue, how to encourage inquisitiveness or hunger for learning.

SDP database - the aim


The aim is to provide a mechanism by which people in the NHS and partner organisations can exchange information about developments in service delivery and practice. Partner organisations might be local authority social services departments or voluntary organisations. The database is live and interactive - with entries to be regularly updated. Each entry follows a fixed format, allowing easier searching.

SDP Database - coverage


Developments in management and clinical practice can be accommodated. Indeed the coverage is planned to mirror the range of challenges we plan to cover in ImpAct such as:




SDP Database examples
Project Base
Rheumatology clinic in primary care Norwich
Rapid response team - to prevent avoidable admissions Ipswich
Development of success criteria for clinical governance in primary care groups South Cheshire
Women's Therapy Group - for survivors of childhood sexual abuse Sheffield
More details and information about who to contact are on the database.

Entry Criteria


No strict entry criteria have been set because much of the learning from local service development comes from initiatives that are not the subject of formal evaluation. The choice about whether the project is likely to be of interest to others rests with the person deciding whether to make an entry.

Practicalities


To use the database you currently need access to the NHS Net: the database can be accessed through the NHS Learning Zone http://nww.learningzone.nhsweb.nhs.uk.

Anyone can search the database, but to make an entry a username and password are needed. If you work in a PCG, these can be obtained from the chief executive of the local health authority. If you work in a NHS Trust you can obtain a username and password from your chief executive.

The database has been constructed so that as soon as an entry is made, an email containing the entry is automatically sent to the relevant chief executive (who supplied the username and password). The email is copied to the Regional Director of Strategic Development at the local NHS Executive Regional Office - to keep them up to date with new practice.

The system has a built-in process of sell-by dates which places responsibility on those making the entries to bring them up-to-date. After two years they will be consigned to the database archive unless they are updated.

Good progress so far


After a period of testing the database went live on the NHS Net in June 1999 (it is described in Health Service Circular HSC 1999/110). By November about 800 entries had been made. Some examples are listed in the table. It is a source worth looking at. A major hurdle is the limitation to users accessing files through the NHS Net. This is proving to be a serious constraint and Jennifer Dixon and her colleagues are looking at ways to make the database more accessible.

Comment


Many people in the NHS may be sceptical about the development of yet another national database as a means of spreading good practice. Other, similar, well-meaning efforts simply faded away through lack of support and use. Nevertheless, a practical way of giving people easy access to the wealth of good local developments that happen in the NHS would be invaluable.

The database is one way to make information exchange about good ideas, or projects that have failed, more systematic than the ad hoc way that occurs (or probably doesn't occur) at present. At another level, the database could allow people to find a group of new colleagues with common interests and create a discussion group. A problem shared could be a problem solved.

We know that some people working in the NHS really are keen to write up their work in journals to tells others about their experiences, but the majority do not have the time and the inclination to do so. The SDP database offers a way out. It really doesn't take long even for the two-fingered typist to complete the database entry. The ten minutes it takes might make a huge difference to someone else stuck with the problem you've just solved.

The challenge will be to make it work and not let it become a black hole into which people dump their experiences. ImpAct will keep you in touch with the development of the SDP database - it could be an important source for us. We'd be keen report on how people have found ways to learn from others to short cut local development time. And finally, we would be delighted to host the database on the Bandolier and ImpAct site to make it accessible to all, even those who do not have direct access to the NHS net (probably most of us).

 

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