ELFT use Life QI to Drive Quality Improvement at Scale

Picture of Kerrie Preston

Published on 4 October 2018 at 12:00

by Kerrie Preston



  • Population - 1.5 m
  • Employees - 5,500
  • Teams - 300
  • Active Projects - 150
  • Improvement Coaches - 47


ELFT's journey so far

The East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) is fast becoming the leading experts in quality improvement in healthcare and are continuing to make a difference to thousands of people’s lives, providing them with much-needed mental health and community health care services and support.


In 2014 ELFT decided to take on a new approach towards QI by starting to think differently, be innovative, and give everyone at every level the skills they needed to lead change. Their quality improvement programme was launched with a mission to 'Improve the quality of life of all the people they serve'. They knew that improving access to evidence-based care this would make their services more effective, give more power to staff and improve patient experience and outcomes.


"We needed a way to allow everyone to contribute and get involved and share their ideas and be able to learn from each other, and for that purpose quality improvement is an amazing way to harness the assets and strengths that everyone has to bring and align that with the priorities that we set as an organisation." Amar Shah, CQO, East London Foundation Trust.


With a mission comes priorities and ELFT have 4 strategic organisational priorities to:

    1. Improve Population Health Outcomes
    2. Improve Patient Experience
    3. Improve Staff Experience
    4. Improve Value for Money


With an aspiring mission, clear vision and a strong set priorities in place, the scale of ELFT's quality improvement work has grown significantly over the past four years, such that now almost 300 teams (clinical and non-clinical) across all areas of their operations are using systematic, continuous improvement methodology to tackle complex issues and testing ideas that could lead to significant, positive change.


ELFT support and actively encourage their teams to tackle quality issues that matter to them, their patients and service users/customers. All teams have a degree of freedom to pick a problem area that they believe needs solving.


"Absolutely everybody can get involved in QI, admin staff, there's Consultants, there's Junior Doctors, there's a whole range of people".

Fiona Stockley, Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services, East London Foundation Trust.


One of the early challenges at ELFT was tracking improvement work progress. Traditional reporting avenues such as Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Internal access databases were leading to a lack of consistency and confusion throughout the trust, which meant that the great work that was being produced was difficult to access, measure and analyse. These barriers were preventing people from sharing successes and failures, learning from others and supporting those that are struggling with their improvement work.


ELFT adopted Life QI's software in 2015 as a platform that could help them overcome tracking and measurability obstacles and give the trust a central hub where all of their Quality Improvement work could happen and be aligned to the methodology used by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), Model for Improvement.


The implementation of Life QI has encouraged people to maintain the rigour of the method and gives people access to purpose-built QI tools. This allows them to easily create and edit driver diagrams, plan and track PDSA cycles, measure their data and best of all see data in run and control charts that are generated automatically by the system. These tools significantly reduce time spent on manual creation.


"There is nothing else out there in my view which can help organisations really provide support for people doing improvement work."

Amar Shah, CQO, East London Foundation Trust.


ELFT continue to invest in and develop their staff's QI skills through their extensive Quality Improvement training programme


"Each team receives support and training from our internal QI team, so they'll be training for staff to understand the concept of QI."

Fiona Stockley, Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services. East London Foundation Trust.


All staff in management or leadership roles are expected to undergo the six-month improvement leaders programme, to equip them to run and lead projects.  Life QI continues to play a fundamental part in ELFT's Quality Improvement training programme. 



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