EPR as it really is. Fran Howland reports from the frontline on SAU

Fran, left with her EPR team


By Fran Howland, Sister Surgical Assessment Unit

"Here we are a week on from ‘EPR go live’.  It’s such an honour to be asked to feature in this week’s CHFT Weekly bulletin and I’m so pleased that my team will get the recognition they deserve.

"In the run up to go live, it would be an understatement to say that staff were apprehensive about the new system.  Coming into work on Monday was a mixture of emotions.  Most of us were excited to be part of such a huge change in the Trust; however the fear of the unknown on our first shift will not be something we forget in a hurry.  We had tears followed by laughter….we had hugs followed by cake…we drank coffee (wishing it was something stronger!)…we panicked at times, but we got over it…we put smiles on our faces for our patients…and we got on with it!

"Staff stayed extra hours to support the following shift, not because they felt they had to, but because they wanted to support their colleagues and pass on their knowledge.  The support of our matron, Karen Melling has been invaluable.  She has put her heart and soul into making sure we were all in it together, and that has certainly helped in our transition onto EPR.  One of our consultants, Mr.Ainslie was also here all last week supporting both nurses and medical staff, and on behalf of all of SAU, we would like to thank them both.

"The main problem we faced last week was the difficulties with capacity management. Having 26 patients in our waiting area at one point, and not one of them on epr was stressful to say the least! Apologising to patients for the delays due to the new system didn’t seem good enough to us.  Our patients always have been, and always will be our number one priority, and the fact we are getting used to epr seems irrelevant to them; they just wanted to be looked after! With patients presenting to us acutely unwell, as nurses we want to make them better ASAP. As we waited hours for tasks that usually took us minutes was, at times so frustrating. These are all things we are working through now though, and we are slowly but surely learning more and more about the system, and seeing the positives.

"Bank Holiday Monday was thankfully a nice steady day, Tuesday was the worst being as far from ‘steady’ as we could get!! By Wednesday we were making progress, and by Friday when I was reflecting back on the week, I couldn’t be more proud of my team. We have a group WhatsApp with most staff in, and the support they have shown each other has been fantastic. If one person says they’re nervous or worried about their next shift, they’ll get a reply from someone else reassuring them that ‘they can do it!!’ This camaraderie is what makes SAU so special.

"Karen had advised us to aim to achieve one thing each shift, no matter how big or small that achievement may be, and this was a great outlook to have.  I remember one staff member coming down the corridor smiling from ear to ear shouting, ‘I booked a porter, and they came and it worked, and I did it!!’ Everyone cheered and that was her achievement for the day!  I know this may seem silly to some people, but by setting small goals, we end our shift on a high, knowing we’ve achieved something.

"I’ve reassured people that we are not going to know the system inside and out after a week, or even after 2 or 3 weeks, but the fact that they all want to know more, and will do everything they possibly can to better themselves at it, shows what a credit they are to the trust. 

"Every day is getting better, and although it will continue to be stressful for quite some time, the fact is that we are all working together, supporting each other and getting through it as a team. I am so proud to be leading my team through such an eventful journey."