Focusing on our therapy services

This week I want to shine a spotlight on the fantastic work done across the organisation by our therapy services.Illustration of different AHPs including Orthoptist, Physiotherapist, Operating department practitioner, osteopath, therapeutic radiographer, dramatherapist, diagnostic radiographer, prosthetist orthotist, podiatrist, art therapist, speech and language therapist, paramedic, dietician, music therapist, occupational therapist.

Did you know that we have 850 members of staff who make up these services, including occupational therapists, podiatrists, psychological therapists, speech & language therapists, dietitians, physiotherapists, support workers, technical and admin staff?

They deliver and support person-centred, therapeutic, and enabling interventions to improve patients physical, psychological and emotional health and wellbeing.

This includes over 200,000 inpatient contacts across our hospitals, almost 41,000 outpatient appointments and over 83,000 community contacts per year, making them a vital part of our workforce and meaning that wherever you work, it’s likely that you are never far away from a therapist.

You will also hear these staff being referred to as Allied Health Professionals or AHPs. This term covers the 15 different professions that work with people in a wide range of health and social care settings in the UK.

We have 1,200 AHPs at Newcastle Hospitals and as the third largest workforce, they play a crucial role across the Trust in adopting a holistic approach to healthcare, supporting patients wherever they are through their life, and focusing on prevention, maximizing potential and improving health and wellbeing.

Partnership working and collaboration is at the centre of their role. They work together in multi-disciplinary teams across hospitals, community, education and primary care settings with adults, children and young people, and also act as ‘connectors’ to other professionals and clinical teams to support their patients.

Ewan Dick is our Associate Director for AHPs & Therapy Services and along with colleagues, he recently presented to the board of directors about the benefits of therapy services and their plans to tackle the challenges they are facing.

I was pleased to hear from the team about their 6 strategic priorities, which are:

  • To develop and support the workforce.
  • To develop adult and acute critical care services.
  • To develop adult and paediatric community services.
  • The Active +Therapies programme.
  • Early intervention, Prehab, enhancing recovery with therapy and rehab.
  • Develop acute paediatric services.

The team talked about the workforce strategy that they have put in place to support the growth and development of this diverse range of staff and highlighted how they have prioritised their resources to invest in dedicated workforce development leads who have been able to help make a step change in the supply and retention of team members.

I wanted to share a couple of areas where they are working differently to support our patients and communities.

Active +Therapies programme

One area of the therapies service strategy is the Active +therapies programme – a co-ordinated programme of service development, improvement & research aiming to promote Active Hospitals, Active Ageing & Active@Home.

Physical inactivity is associated with 1 in 6 deaths in the UK and according to the World Health Organisation, it is estimated that 1 in 4 people do not meet the global recommended levels of physical activity. People who are insufficiently active have a 20% to 30% increased risk of death compared to people who are sufficiently active.

On top of that, we know that just 10 days in hospital can be the equivalent of 10 years physical ageing in terms of the effects on our patients due to bed rest and deconditioning – a big concern for us all as we seek to reduce the risk of harm caused by inactivity in hospital.Newcastle Hospitals charity logo

Thanks to a grant from Newcastle Hospitals Charity, the project has run a 23-month pilot to support patients with long term conditions to become more physically active on our wards, on discharge from hospital and to increase awareness of all staff about the benefits of physical activity for patients with long term conditions.

This area of work prioritises early intervention and prevention and creates personalised activities for patients with long term conditions. Therapists are able to help staff develop an understanding of the importance of personalised care, shared decision making, patient education, self-management and wellbeing for this patient group – this can have a significant impact on the health inequalities that some of our patients experience. Reaching a healthy weight and achieving good mental and psychological health can make a huge improvement to their quality of life.

Early intervention, Prehab, enhancing recovery with therapy & rehab

Another great example of innovative work is the introduction of prehab and rehab for day case, elective and complex surgery & cancer pathways.

Prehabilitation (prehab) means getting ready for treatment in the time you have before your surgery. It is a programme of support and advice that covers three particular parts of your health; what you’re eating and your weight, physical activity or exercise and mental wellbeing.

There is good evidence that giving patients access to early support helps them to be well enough to benefit from and recover well after surgery or treatment.

Our teams are developing new ways of supporting patients before they come into hospital and all the way through their journey, enhancing their recovery and the benefits they get from treatments. It also makes sense for the NHS – ensuring that the investment in clinical care is optimised with cancellations being avoided and so costs are reduced.

Vascular podiatry

One area which rarely gets much attention are our podiatry services, which I visited last year. As well as providing extensive services across the community, our podiatrists are integral in delivering the virtual Diabetic Foot MDT which was set up to ensure first class outpatient and inpatient care and prevent hospital admission. It is jointly delivered with podiatrists from Northumberland and North Tyneside, and consultants from several specialties including vascular, foot and ankle orthopaedics, microbiology, radiology and diabetes.

Since the team came together, 95 diabetic foot MDT meetings have been held with a total of 560 patients assessed and their ongoing management planned collaboratively. Ongoing wound management is discussed for patients in the community and patients who have sadly reached the point of major amputation are discussed to ensure there are no further management options to be explored. Our podiatrists play such an important role in supporting patients to avoid further disability and are often critical in identifying and treating problems early, before they become more severe.

My thanksPicture of Cheryl with mascot for sensational thinking project - bobby- who is a black and white dog, holding a box of sensory toys

I’ve only touched on some of their work but reflecting on the contribution of this very valued group of staff makes me very proud. They are often the driving force behind new innovations and achievements, and seem to have boundless energy, enthusiasm, and good humour.

I often see them gently encouraging patients to be more active and independent, and reassuring them that with support their recovery can get on the right track.

On Monday, I will be spending some time with the Sensational Thinking Project which supports young people with sensory needs, and I know that I will once more hear about the wonderful contribution from our therapy staff who are often able to think more widely and differently about the issues we face. Thank you all for everything you give.

Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) Day 2023Biomedical sciences day graphic with rainbow and text detailing the date of the event

Our biomedical scientists deliver the safe, high-quality pathology services that are the backbone of the NHS – screening for, reporting on and monitoring all diseases and viruses.

In the UK, diagnostic activity forms part of over 85% of clinical pathways and our biomedical scientists and laboratory staff handle more than 1.5 billion samples a year. I am passionate about raising awareness of these vital roles and promoting the work and expertise of laboratory staff in the trust and across the UK.

The team will be holding two engagement events to celebrate the day on Thursday 8 June between 10am and 2pm – one at the RVI MediCinema and the other at Freeman Hospital NCCC atrium.

Celebrating 75 years of NHS charitiesBlack and white picture of Jess Shield.

The NHS celebrates its 75th birthday in July and to mark the occasion a new exhibition by Rankin and NHS Charities Together is now on display at the Saatchi gallery in London. ‘Love and Charity: A History of Giving in the NHS’ celebrates the vital role charities have played throughout health service history, and how their contribution has helped make the NHS what it is today.

Alongside Michael Palin and England and Liverpool footballer Jordan Henderson the exhibition also features NHS staff, patients and volunteers including Jess Shield a sister on ward 18 at the RVI. Jess has become a real advocate for NHS Charities Together funded mental health support for staff. You can read more about why Jess became involved in this important project here.

Picture of the new training centre with turquoise walls and chairs.

Investment in clinical training

The last few weeks have been extra busy for education and workforce development colleagues and our digital and estates teams,

who have been pulling out all the stops for the launch of our two new, high tech training centres at Freeman Hospital and Eldon Court in Newcastle centre.

The new facilities will provide thousands of training opportunities for our staff, who will be able to access the latest technology and replica healthcare facilities

Picture of bright training centre ward with hospital beds and curtains.

including an operating theatre, wards and consultation rooms, plus flexible IT suites and an adaptable lecture theatre.

The spaces are designed for clinical and non-clinical training and have a range of equipment to provide tailored, real-life scenarios for a realistic and bespoke training environment.

The teams look forward to welcoming you to the new centres.

Pride MonthNorthern pride Pride 2023 logo 22 - 23 July

Pride is celebrated each June – marking the month when the Stonewall riots took place in 1969 in the US – changing gay rights for a lot of people in America and across the world.

Pride is a celebration of people coming together in love and friendship, to show how far LGBTQ+ rights have come, and how in some places there’s still work to be done. LGBT+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. The + is an inclusive symbol to mean ‘and others’ to include people of all identities.

The month is about acceptance, equality, celebrating the work of LGBTQ+ people, education in LGBTQ+ history and raising awareness of issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community. It also calls for people to remember how damaging homophobia was and still can be. Pride is all about being proud of who you are no matter who you love.

We have our very own Pride staff network, if you would like to get involved, would like support or as an ally would like to learn more, please contact [email protected] for more information.

As part of the Northern Pride the following month, we’ll be joining NEAS, Northumbria Police and Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue service to host a breakfast at the Civic Centre on 22 July before joining the Pride March.

If you’d like to come along to the breakfast or join the march please email [email protected] with the subject “PRIDE MARCH”. In the email contents can you please include what size T-shirt you would need as the team are hoping to supply everyone doing the march with a T-shirt to wear. Please also let us know if you wish to bring a partner, family member or friend along with you.

Awards, achievements and other news

Picture of Evie holding her award.

Congratulations to Evie Davidson on winning the Children of Bravery award at this month’s Northern Children of Courage Awards. Evie was diagnosed with early onset scoliosis and had surgery two years ago to correct the curve in her spine. Following surgery, Evie immediately returned to gymnastics and has since raised money for Newcastle Hospitals Charity and helped to raise awareness of scoliosis.

Picture of Iain Clarke holding award.


Iain Clarke, deputy catering manager, was shortlisted as a finalised for Leader of the Year in the Healthcare Estates and Facilities Management Assoaciation (HEFMA) Awards 2023.



Consultant oncologist at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care, Dr Najibah Mahtab, alongside her five sisters run a mentoring scheme with a focus on helping those from deprived backgrounds, which was featured on ITV Tyne Tees last week. The Mahtab sisters from Newcastle, founded the 5 Diamonds Mentorship, a not-for-profit scheme for young people aged between 14 and 18 and have workshops running across the country.

It was great to see our volunteers featuring in the latest Collaborative Newcastle newsletter. You can read about this and our other innovations to improve health, wealth and wellbeing in our city here.

Celebrating Excellence awards 2023 logo with charity supporter logo.

And finally, I would like to remind everyone that nominations for our Celebrating Excellence Awards 2023 close very soon.

We don’t often take the time to reflect on and acknowledge the fantastic work happening across Newcastle Hospitals and our awards are an opportunity for us to celebrate this work. You can nominate a colleague or team for an award on our website.