Flourish – our cornerstone programme

I hope that you all know by now how passionate I am about supporting staff to liberate their full potential at work and truly flourish. I believe, and know from experience, that harnessing everyone’s passion and expertise, and supporting each other to have a positive work environment and culture of openness are essential for a successful organisation.

We have embedded this important principle right at the heart of our Trust strategy. One of our five strategic objectives is ‘People’ and we will reach our aims in this area through our Flourish approach.

When we first launched our #FlourishAtNewcastleHospitals programme in 2018, it was you – our staff – who set the priorities for the first year. These were reward and recognition; values and behaviours; and health and wellbeing and we’ve made huge progress in those areas.

Our new Trust values, developed by you, are a great example. We’ve also had a successful, glittering staff awards ceremony, BAME conference and Pride event, as well as a comprehensive programme of physical and mental health campaigns – sleep, menopause and sexual health are all areas that we’ve looked at together, led by passionate people from across the organisation. We’ve also taken the courageous step to declare a climate emergency; something which I know many of us are personally committed to.

But Flourish is actually about much more than that. It’s about what each one of us can do, every day to contribute to creating a culture of improvement, kindness and excellence in the trust.

I know that we have more to do to loosen up some of the constraints that might not need to exist in some of our policies and procedures and we need to do more to support the informal networks of activity that create so much positive energy and social change. The reality is that this takes time, but we are making progress. It’s also not something that I can, or would want to, impose. Each one of us needs to play a role and take responsibility for our part.

It was wonderful to be joined by over 120 of you last week for our Flourish event at the Great North Museum from all parts of the organsiation. It was a great opportunity to reflect on our progress so far and think about the potential that this programme can bring in Newcastle.

I was particularly pleased to hear from John Thompson and Lucia Pareja-Cebrian who told us about the practical work they are leading in their directorates to support staff.

John told us about the approach he has taken to ensure his 1100 staff in facilities are able to have a voice

John told us about the approach he has taken to ensure his 1,100 staff in facilities are able to have a voice. He highlighted that these staff rarely access computers and don’t often come together as a group or team. John told us about the numerous drop-in sessions he has arranged at all times of the day (and night) to engage with staff, giving them the chance to share their views about what would make a great day at work for them and what changes they would like to see. The team are also taking the innovative step of developing a staff council to strengthen their voice.

Lucia spoke about clinical staff workshops she has held to listen to views from a wide variety of staff. John told us about the approach he has taken to ensure his 1100 staff in facilities are able to have a voice Suggestions have included some very basic things we all expect – like being able to get food during the day and regular toilet breaks. That doesn’t seem like much to ask for, but the reality is that some staff work in environments where they find this very difficult. I was pleased to hear about some very positive changes which have made a difference.

There are other priorities to address and many will not be fixed overnight, but noticing and recognising progress is so important in motivating us to keep working towards the next success.

The staff who came together worked hard to think about important actions we all might take – this week, this month, this year or in the next five years over the life of the strategy. There were several suggestions for big changes which will take some thought and exploration, but I was particularly struck by actions that were suggested which every one of us can do straight away. For example smiling and saying hello, celebrating a colleague through greatix, saying thank you, listening to each other and really hearing, and making time to understand and celebrate the diversity of people and views around us.

I’d encourage you to talk in your teams about what a good day at work looks like, and what you can do in your own areas to make every day a good one. I’m keen to hear your views, your ideas and your achievements!

Leadership congress

Our next leadership congress ‘Leadership for Improvement’ will be held at the Great North Museum on Wednesday 27 November from 4 – 6.30pm. This promises to be a fantastic event and I’m delighted that we will be joined by two international speakers:

  • Susan Hannah, Senior Director for Europe Region and Strategic Partners at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, who will be giving an international perspective on quality improvement
  • Helen Bevan, Chief Transformation Officer at NHS Horizons will also be joining us online.

We will also have examples of quality improvement from our own teams.

Our leadership congress is for leaders and aspiring leaders at all levels in the Trust, to consider the big issues that face us today. To attend please email [email protected]

Staff Survey

Our staff survey will close at the end of this month, so please take the time to share your honest views. It’s the only way that we will be able to know about issues that matter to you, and to measure what we are doing to address them.

Managers in particular are asked to ensure that all members of the team are able to take the time to complete their survey. You can watch my video about why it’s important here.

Flu – protect yourself and others

Public Health England (PHE) have reported a dramatic increase in respiratory cases across the region in the last couple of weeks, which appears to have escalated rapidly. We have also seen

increasing numbers of influenza patients presenting at our hospitals.

Just over 7,000 frontline staff, 60% of staff, have had their flu jab. This is not just about protecting you, but also your patients, friends, family and those around you.

Drop-in clinics will finish on Friday 29 November, so please visit to make sure you are protected. You can also get your vaccine via a peer vaccinator (full list of vaccinators and locations can be found on the intranet). Each afternoon mobile flu teams will be visiting all work areas. Call the flu hotline on 0191 244 8366 to request your departmental slot from 1pm – 4pm.

Paperlite update

Our Paperlite programme is now fully operational and, despite some early performance issues, implementation has been an overall success. A huge thank you to all clinicians, admin staff, managers and IT support teams who made this happen and who continue to work together to develop how we use our new systems.

While each phase of ‘go live’ brought its own challenges, I know many people went over and beyond to ensure that once a clinical area went digital, it remained digital. For an organisation of this scale and complexity, it’s been an incredible achievement. Furthermore, within hours of becoming familiar with the new ways of working, many staff have been exploring the potential of the system and sharing ideas on how we can improve functionality to benefit our organisation and teams.

This is just the beginning of our exciting Paperlite journey – there is so much more to come – and I’ll ensure I keep you updated on progress as we explore our digital future.

Flourish December giving campaign #LetsGive

Following the overwhelming response and generosity of staff last year to support our #FlourishAtChristmas campaign, by donating toiletries and other gifts to local people, we’re hoping to do it all over again this December on a bigger scale.

This year is #Let’sGive and we’re collecting for Newcastle East and West Food Banks as well as the Newcastle Dog and Cat shelter in Benton.

It’s anticipated the collection day will be Friday 13 December and if you’d like to make a donation, the following are some of the items the team are looking for:

Food Banks: Tinned fruit, vegetables, tomatoes, fish and meat, rice pudding, potatoes, pasta sauces, curry sauce, small jars of coffee, small bottles of diluted juice, UHT milk, biscuits (No fresh food please).

They are also looking for toiletries including shampoo, deodorant, shower gel, toilet rolls and sanitary products.

Dog and Cat shelter: hot dogs, newspapers, fish oil/coconut oil, tasty treats, grain-free wet and dry food, tinned tuna and sardines, stuffable toys and kongs, cat and dog toys, tin/can openers, lick mats, snuffle mats, stuffed teddies.

I know staff pulled out all the stops last year and showed that Newcastle Hospitals is not just about caring for our patients but also the wider community we serve. Look out for details of pick-up points in the InBrief and on the Flourish website.

Coincidently, 13 December is also Christmas jumper day, so if you’ve got a favourite festive sweater and want to get on board to support Newcastle Hospitals Charity (or a charity of your choice), please share your photos with us.

Awards and Achievements

Last week was the Bright Ideas in Health awards and we had deserving winners in a number of categories:

  • Development of an innovative device or technology – Improvements in mandibular reconstruction
  • Early diagnosis and precision medicine award – Improvements in breast imaging
  • Demonstrating an impact upon quality improvement – The Kidzmed project – teaching children to swallow tablet medication
  • The Paediatric sepsis podcast was awarded second place in the Innovation in Education category

Congratulations to all our staff on the following awards and achievements:

  • Professor Muzlifah Haniffa has won the 2019 Foulkes Foundation Medal for her ground-breaking contributions to medical.
  • The e-Rostering team have been shortlisted for the Healthcare IT Award in the Health Business Awards for their SafeCare roll-out.
  • Our finance apprentices, Connor Buckley, Lewis Chater, James Davison and Aiden Watson received HFMA Northern Branch

Patients, staff from ward 35 and charity Tiny Lives walked from the RVI to the quayside to raise awareness of World Prematurity Day. The event attracted around 400 people down to the quayside to see Newcastle iconic bridges lit up purple to mark the occasion.

And finally

Next month, I’ll be chatting with Roy Lilley – a health policy analyst, writer, broadcaster and commentator on the NHS – about my career and life as a CEO.

My HealthChat is at the RVI, CRB Education centre on Tuesday 10 December from 5pm to 7.30pm and is free to Trust staff.

To book your place here click here – it should be an interesting evening!