Doing the right thing, from the start

Our neonatal intensive care unit is a very special place. The team care for our smallest patients, and their families, who come to us from across the region at a time when they truly are at their most vulnerable. The care provided by our team makes a difference to those families for their whole lives.

So, it was wonderful to be able to visit the service recently to celebrate them becoming the first in the region – and one of only a handful in the UK – to be awarded UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative full accreditation.

The initiative is part of a global partnership between the World Health Organisation and UNICEF and helps maternity, neonatal and health visiting services to support families with feeding and developing close and loving relationships so that all babies can get the best possible start in life.

To reach this standard and become accredited, the unit had to fully meet standards outlined by UNICEF. The first two stages support teams to embed the standards into written policies and procedures and educate the workforce to put this into practice.

The final stage is based on the experiences of parents who currently – or have recently – had their baby stay in the unit. Parents were asked about their entire journey in neonatal intensive care, including the environment and facilities, the support they received to develop a close relationship with, and feed their baby, and how involved they were in care and decision making.

Having your baby stay on the neonatal unit can be one of the most stressful and difficult times. In becoming ‘baby friendly’ we’re embedding a culture of working in partnership with families in every aspect of care.

While the importance of providing breastmilk is promoted and supported for all babies, especially those admitted to the neonatal unit, it is also about supporting parents to develop close and loving relationships with their child.

It was great to see the whole team effort that had gone into reaching this high standard. They weren’t afraid to say that it had been difficult at times, but their pride shone through. It was lovely to see the unit, hear about their future plans and join them to celebrate their success.

Afterwards I reflected on the work of the neonatal team, and their very clear focus on working together to give those tiny patients the best start. These are very precious lives, and the impact that staff could have on their futures was acutely recognised.

Our winner of ‘Championing Equality’ Odeth Richardson

That’s a feature across all of our services, for patients of every age. The impact we can have on patients’ life chances can be just as significant, and that is a huge responsibility.

At the end of September, we rounded off ‘Thank You’ month with our Celebrating Excellence Awards. You can read about our finalists and winners here – and I’m sure you’ll agree that each of them shows the very essence of the care that we aspire to across our organisation. I hope they also inspire you to nominate colleagues for our celebration next year!

The quality of care we provide is something that we are incredibly proud of, and we have a long history of being at the cutting-edge of science and innovation.

Everywhere I go, I see that remarkable culture where Quality Improvement is an integral part of everyone’s daily work through learning, improving and innovating.

At times like this, when the pressures on us seem unrelenting, it’s more important than ever to try and think differently to ensure we are in the strongest possible position to address any challenges ahead – working smarter, not harder.

That’s why it’s so important to give everyone, at every level, the opportunity to access the skills they need to lead change.

Alongside our partners at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement we have created “Newcastle Improvement” – bringing together the expertise of the service improvement and transformation team, transformation and financial improvement team and quality improvement.

This small team – who were Celebrating Excellence Award winners for partnership working – are here to support you and your teams to lead changes (big and small) in your own areas. Their aim is to build a culture of continuous quality improvement, together using tried and tested improvement science.

Newcastle Improvement receiving the Partnership award at the Celebrating Excellence Awards.

We often share case studies from teams who are undertaking quality improvement projects, and today we have three brilliant examples.

I hope you find these stories interesting and inspiring, and I would encourage you to share your own improvement stories with colleagues.

If you would like to know more about Newcastle Improvement, to share ideas or to ask for support, please email [email protected].

Or you could come to our next learning and sharing event which will be held on Thursday 20 October at midday to 1pm and again at 5pm to 6pm. These sessions will feature presentations from older people’s medicine and paediatrics and staff can register by emailing the team as above.

As always, members of the executive team are keen to hear your stories directly, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have news to share. Thank you all for your efforts everyday to support our patients and for your constant drive to make positive changes, even in the most difficult of circumstances.

Multi-million pound research investment

We have just received the fantastic news today that our NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre has been awarded £23.1m by the Department of Health and Social Care to continue our world-class research into ageing and multiple long-term conditions.

The investment from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) will support a five-year programme delivered by Newcastle Hospitals, Newcastle University and Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear Mental Health Trust to better understand and treat a range of conditions for patients in the UK and beyond.

The award, which continues a 15-year track record of Newcastle hosting a NIHR BRC, is part of a £790 million investment in NHS research and Newcastle is amongst the 20 NHS and University partnerships across England to have been awarded funding to translate scientific discoveries into new treatments, diagnostic tests and medical technologies for patients.

Research is central to our trust because we recognise its importance in creating a better future for our patients, staff, and communities. Its impact goes far beyond scientific breakthroughs and the discovery of new treatments, helping to improve patient care and patient experience, as well as helping us to attract and retain our outstanding workforce.

My thanks to Professor Avan Aihie Sayer, Director of the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre & William Leech Professor of Geriatric Medicine, and all the team who have worked so hard to secure this funding. You can read more here.

Day treatment centre

Since opening our new day treatment centre to our patients a fortnight ago, our teams have carried out a range of procedures including cyst removal, pacemaker battery changes, arthroscopy, breast reconstruction and circumcision.

Working to a ramp-up plan, the centre is expected to be operating at capacity by the end of November. Clinical colleagues who’ve carried out procedures at the centre have provided very positive feedback and one of our first patients said they’d had: “Literally the best experience of coming into hospital. It’s the staff that make it – perfect from the very start.”

Team NHS Blue Wave

Thanks to the generosity of our charity, a wave of NHS blue swept along the Quayside last Friday, as part of the Great North 5k.

The event brought colleagues and friends together from across the NHS to have fun and improve their health and wellbeing as part of one of the biggest running events in the UK.

Supporting the health and wellbeing of our colleagues is a key focus for our Flourish programme and it was amazing to see so many people get involved for 2022 – hitting the streets to celebrate the unity of Newcastle Hospitals, building up some team spirit, and celebrating the NHS.

You can see below some photos from the day here

Don’t forget to complete your Staff Survey

Over 2,000 of you have already completed your staff survey – thank you for taking this time to feedback and tell us what matters to you.

The survey is key to understanding your experiences and I would urge everyone to take some time to complete it. It takes around 15 minutes, is completely confidential and is your opportunity to share your views about what it’s like to work here to impact real change for our future.

Watch out for our staff engagement stands across our sites over the coming weeks and be sure to ask our friendly teams any questions you may have about the survey. They will also have laptops available and information on logging in, for any members of staff without access to a work computer.

Look out for your email from [email protected] – and complete your survey, to make a difference.

Staff vaccination programme

Our staff vaccination programme has got off to a great start with over 4,963 covid boosters and 4,319 flu jabs already delivered. As always, I’d strongly encourage staff to get vaccinated to protect yourselves, your patients, colleagues and loved-ones.

This winter could be the first time we see the real effects of both Covid and flu and so it remains vital that we do everything we can to support NHS resilience over the coming months.

As well as booked appointments, we are also holding some drop-in clinics at the Freeman (for flu) and our peer vaccinators can also give the flu jab in clinical areas. Please check with your matron for more details.

National Burn Awareness Day

As part of National Burns Awareness Day the team from the Northern Regional Burns Centre have launched a new film – funded by our Newcastle Hospitals Charity – which raises awareness of the small changes we can all make to avoid preventable accidents at home. The video also provides education on the best way to care for burns before seeking help.

To mark the day the team also held an information stand at the RVI alongside staff from the Tyne and Wear Fire Brigade to help raise awareness amongst patients, staff and visitors.

Awards and achievements

Innovate Awards – Congratulations to our sustainability and procurement teams – and everyone else at the trust involved in working towards a net zero carbon supply chain – for winning the Net Zero Innovation of the Year category in the AHSN Network and NHS Confederation’s first Innovate Awards. This is an amazing recognition of your work to engage our supply chain in climate action.

Ride for their Lives – Last weekend, staff from Newcastle Hospitals joined with colleagues from across the north east to cycle between the region’s hospital sites as part of the national campaign ‘Ride for Their Lives’.

The team set off from Hexham Hospital, calling at Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital before a final stop at the Royal Victoria Infirmary to raise awareness and action to address the impact the climate emergency and air pollution can have on health – especially the health of children. You can read more here.

Recognition for excellence – Congratulations to the haematology team at the Freeman Hospital who were presented with the Myeloma UK Clinical Service Excellence Programme Award for the second time. Staff were praised for their effort to improve patients’ quality of life and truly listening to their needs. You can read more here.

Engaging with our communities – This week, the Change of Heart regional Covid vaccination campaign – which aimed to increase uptake amongst 16-29-year-olds – won a national NHS Communicate Award for its ‘Use of insight and data for innovation in communications’, against strong competition from NHS organisations across England.

Led by the Integrated Covid Hub North East / Newcastle Hospitals and supported by the Covid vaccination programme, NHS, local authorities, colleges and universities, it was also highly commended in the award category for ‘Best behaviour change or public health campaign’ and later in the week received two CIPR North East PRide Gold Awards for best healthcare / public sector campaign and a silver award for best integrated campaign.

A gold award also went to the North East and North Cumbria COVID-19 vaccination programme for best regional campaign. A huge well done to everyone involved.

Associate Director of Nursing, Helga Charters

MediCinema – Our Associate Director of Nursing, Helga Charters, is joining MediCinema’s Board of Trustees this month, along with Gavin Worrell, the Group Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer at Pearl & Dean. Their appointments will support MediCinema’s longer-term strategic objectives to reach more beneficiaries with wider impact through its hospitals cinemas, including ours at the RVI, and bedside services. You can read more here