How would you feel being the passenger in a car if the driver had never taken a driving test? If they are unsure where to turn and get in the wrong lane, there could be severe consequences.
When it comes to RTT, this situation can be the reality for the patient if the staff involved in managing their pathway have not received adequate RTT training.
But what is adequate?
Is the same training suitable for an 18 Weeks RTT validator, a Performance Manager and an Outpatient Receptionist? Can a one size fits all solution cater to the knowledge requirements of the many differing roles involved in the RTT process?
Is a mandatory assessment necessary to ensure knowledge has been retained? And if so, is 5 multiple choice questions really sufficient to demonstrate a thorough understanding of RTT?
Is RTT training being viewed as a tick-box exercise without a true understanding of the impact it has on the patient journey?
A lack of a thorough understanding of RTT can be costly. Something as simple as a mis-entered code, inadvertently recording a clock stop on what should be an incomplete pathway, could result in clinical harm – and who can put a cost on that? On a larger scale, repeated errors of this nature will have a significant impact on not just patient care, but the Trust’s data quality as a whole, leading to inaccurate and inflated waiting lists.
Getting data quality back on track may require substantial investment in RTT validation, but this isn’t a sustainable solution, fixing only the symptoms and not the root cause.
My view is that to ensure a through understanding of RTT, the training must be specific to the users needs and must contain a comprehensive assessment to ensure the knowledge has been retained. I am also a big advocate of RTT training being a component of mandatory induction training, as well as being reviewed annually to ensure important lessons learned are not forgotten.
When senior NHS decision makers are deciding how to best allocate the budget (an unenviable task) its easy to see why RTT training may take a back seat to other more ‘essential’ activities, but in the long haul, investing in some driving lessons now can avoid a major car crash down the road. The question that needs to be asked is “Does the price of getting it right outweigh the costs of getting it wrong?”.