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Improvement community bids fond farewell to Joy and Paula

The NHS Wales improvement community is bidding farewell to a pair of long-serving colleagues.

Joy Whitlock and Paula Phillips have retired from their respective roles at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Improvement Cymru, having between them clocked 81 years’ NHS service.

Head of Quality and Safety Improvement, Joy Whitlock leaves the NHS with almost 45 years’ service under her belt. Around 19 of those have been in quality improvement. 

Joy began her career as a student nurse in St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London and had a successful clinical career in critical care, cardiac, neuro surgery and practice nursing.

After moving into the world of improvement at North Bristol NHS Trust, Joy moved to Cardiff and Vale University Health Board in August 2004 and spent almost two decades as a pivotal figure in the organisation’s Quality Improvement function, alongside further improvement roles within the 1000 Lives Campaign, The Health Foundation Safer Patient Network, and Wales Deanery.

Deputy Director and Head of Quality Improvement at Improvement Cymru, Dominique Bird, said: “Joy’s passion for patient safety has been a driving force for Wales. She led the way on the original Safer Patients Initiative; and was a key player in the start of the 1000 Lives Campaign and 1000 Lives patient safety programmes which followed.

“It was a delight to then have Joy involved in the Leading Patient Safety network for the Safe Care Collaborative, and I know she will continue to be a strong advocate for our work together in her retirement.”

Paula Phillips recently retired from her Senior Improvement Manager role at Improvement Cymru, where she led on the Learning Disability team’s Physical Health workstream.

Paula began her learning disability (LD) nursing career in Powys, before working in Swansea Bay in various roles within LD specialist services and the wider health system including transition services and leadership nursing roles.

Paula joined Improvement Cymru in 2018, initially with a part-time role in piloting and embedding the health equalities framework (HEF) as a mechanism to monitor and reduce health inequalities. She then secured a position within the broader Improving Lives programme and played a pivotal role in working to improve the experiences of people with an LD accessing primary and secondary healthcare services.

Paula’s many achievements include:

  • Promoting the role of the learning disability nurses especially acute liaison nurses.
  • Initiating and running large and small scale events to highlight the needs of the LD population, disseminating good practice and improvements.
  • The development and embedding of the ‘Once for Wales Health Profile’, an evidence-based, bilingual, person centred patient safety tool.
  • Producing and implementing the Paul Ridd Learning Disability Awareness training.
  • Progressing improvement programmes in respects to delivering health checks to people with LD

Andrea Gray, Mental Health Development Lead for Wales, Improvement Cymru, said: “Paula has an outstanding record in championing services for people with a learning disability, and in particular the drive to reduce the health inequalities they experience.

“Her passion and commitment to ensure evidence based and effective nursing care has not wavered in over 36 years of practice, and the voice of service users and their families has always been at the heart of all she has done.

“Paula has advocated, enabled self-advocacy, co-produced, asked difficult questions and been positively relentless in her work.”

Dominique Bird added: “I would like to share huge thanks to both Joy and Paula for their many years of dedicated service to the NHS, particularly the immeasurable contribution they’ve made to improvement within the health system in Wales. On behalf of Improvement Cymru and the improvement community more broadly, may I wish you both the very best in your retirement.”

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