Queen’s Nurse Karen Leach is a registered nurse from Guernsey in the Channel Islands. In 2018 she was awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust  Travelling Fellowship and will be travelling to learn at Southcentral Foundation in Anchorage, Alaska and Canterbury District Health Board in Christchuch, New Zealand.

“Last September I applied to the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust for a Travelling Fellowship and am delighted to say that I was successful and will be travelling to learn during 2018 as a Churchill Fellow.

I heard about the Fellowship through a QNI newsletter. The idea of the Fellowship is to travel, learn, share and improve – perfect for us Queen’s Nurses!

The application process is all online and very straightforward. You must explain your idea and identify how and where you propose to investigate it. It’s important to have a clear project in mind and some contacts already.

Over 1000 applications were received and shortlisted to around 240. Once shortlisted I had to submit a more detailed proposal and references.  I was then invited to a panel interview in London where I was asked to explain my proposal in person. The interview panel was made up of previous Fellows who understood the subject area I planned to research.

I live in Guernsey in the Channel Islands, which lie nearer to France than England. We are a Crown Dependency with our own assembly called the States of Guernsey. Our health and care system is completely different to the UK. With a population of around 62,000, we have the potential to design systems that mean people living on our islands experience happy, healthy and purposeful lives in engaged and prosperous communities.

However, we have the same challenges of most developed countries when it comes to meeting increasing demand for health and care in an ageing population. I hope we stop seeing this as a negative, but instead find new ways of harnessing the potential of older people to help us build thriving communities.

My aim is for a ‘Partnership of Purpose’ to be created – this will need courage and creative thinking to succeed. I applied for the Fellowship because I wanted to connect with communities who have already started to think and work differently around community health and wellbeing.

I plan to visit Southcentral Foundation in Anchorage, Alaska and Canterbury District Health Board in Christchuch, New Zealand. Both of these organisations have been cited by the King’s Fund as exemplars of new ways of working.

My first trip will be to Anchorage to learn about the Nuka System of Care.  I have been interested in Southcentral Foundation since reading about their improvement journey through the King’s Fund. I attended a Masterclass in 2016 where Southcentral’s senior leadership team, Steve and Michelle Tierney, explained the history behind the system redesign and the fundamental shift made to put the customer in charge of the health system.

What was interesting to hear was how with this came a personal responsibility to health and wellbeing that reached across the community. I was fascinated to hear how prioritisation happens and what this means for population health.

My second trip will be to Canterbury District Health Board in Christchurch. This area of New Zealand had already begun on a journey of transformation when a devastating earthquake in 2011 caused a crisis in the health and care system, which accelerated the rate of change.

The Canterbury model is fascinating because of how they have achieved integrated care through a single unifying ‘one vision, one budget’ approach, finding new ways of working, with a clear aim of increasing community care to keep people well and healthy in their own homes.

On the face of it there are many similarities between Canterbury District and Guernsey, so I am excited to be able to make connections we can learn from.

I am incredibly grateful to the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and the Burdett Trust for Nursing for this once in a lifetime opportunity. I will be using a blog to record my experiences during the year ahead. I can’t wait to get started!”


Karen has her own blog where intends to document her experiences. You can also follow her on Twitter.  

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