Happy New Year!

The decorations have been taken down and put away until next year, and I hope each of you were
able to find some time to rest and enjoy the festivities with your families, colleagues and friends
over the holidays.

2020 promises to be another productive and exciting year for the NHS and for us in Newcastle.
As we look ahead to a new decade we should be optimistic about the opportunities available to us
and the impact and improvements we are able to make.

After a number of challenging years there is promise of new funding and renewed energy on
national policy which will support our NHS to regain ground lost over a number of years and
enable us to focus on the transformation needed for its longevity.

We are well placed at Newcastle Hospitals to be at the forefront of emerging developments
whether we are talking about approaches to the training and education of our workforce, reaping
the advantages that new technology, research and innovation can bring to our patients or working
in partnership with other organisations to bring about improvements.

As you know, in 2019 we refreshed and launched our strategy which includes many features of the
previous strategy with other areas being strengthened. We have positioned ‘healthcare at its best
with people at our heart’ as our ambition and aspiration and we are in a prime position to seize the
opportunities that new developments will bring.

Our number one priority is to provide the very best care to our patients – many of whom live and
work in the North East – but as a number of our services are highly specialised we also have many
important roles nationally and internationally which are important in today’s context.

Newcastle may feel a long way from London and Whitehall but it is important that leaders in health
and Government feel our presence and hear our voice. We know well the inequalities faced in the
North of England and are committed to play our part in the redistribution of Health, Wealth
and Wellbeing.

Being a strong, high performing provider with our outstanding CQC rating gives us clear obligations to play a leadership role in areas such as research and innovation, climate change and staff engagement. During the early part of this decade and the implementation of the NHS Plan we should be confident about sharing our expertise and welcoming of colleagues who would like to learn from us.

I’m hopeful that we may see developments in the way the NHS funds capital developments so that we can provide the best clinical environments for the future. We have secured more than £40million for the new paediatric cardiac facility, which was promised in 2019, but we have other significant estate needs across the Trust. We are concentrating our efforts to secure funding for a new wing which will re-provide
many of the cramped and outdated facilities in the Leazes Wing at the RVI. As you will appreciate
the cost of re-provision is significant – well over £200million – but as the region’s ‘anchor’ institution
and provider of many of the regional specialist services, this investment is crucial.

Closer to home, we have some important anniversaries to celebrate this year. Our Great North Children’s Hospital will be 10 years old while Newcastle’s Dental School and Hospital, which was first founded in 1895, celebrates its 125th anniversary.

These occasions allow us to reflect on the wonderful clinical advances and care that we have provided across our services. Generations of clinicians have contributed to our accomplishments, and generations of local people have benefited from them, underlining our vital role in the North East’s communities.
2020 is also special because it’s been designated by the World Health Organisation as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife. This year-long effort will celebrate the work of the 20 million nurses and midwives across the world, highlighting the challenging conditions they often face and advocating globally for increased investments in the nursing and midwifery workforce. This year has been chosen as it coincides with the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, an important founder of modern nursing.

As a proud nurse myself, I really welcome the chance to celebrate and show how much we
appreciate our nursing and midwifery colleagues. We’ll be shining a light on the achievements of our nurses, midwives and, importantly, our Allied Health Professionals throughout this year as well as focussing on developing and showcasing Nursing@Newcastle including recruitment, career opportunities, leadership and developing our nursing strategy so that we can keep Newcastle at the very pinnacle of nursing practice.

It starts this month with a particular focus on research – a key priority area in the strategy – and
we’ll be showcasing the work of our research active nurses and midwives and the impact
they’re making.

You will have your own goals and ambitions for the next 12 months, and indeed for the next
decade, both personal and in your careers. I’d like to wish you every success in achieving them,
and hope that we can support each other to continue to do great things.


Now that we’re in 2020, no doubt many staff have made a few New Year resolutions hoping to spark a positive change. Our Flourish campaign to kick start January is #Goals and includes lots of information and advice on easy, good-for-you goals rather than taking drastic measures!

By making simple lifestyle tweaks each day, you’ll not only jumpstart a healthier body and mind — you’ll feel better – whether that’s squeezing a little more fitness into your busy time, slimming down, eating better or cutting back on alcohol.

We’re also a proud partner of The Great North Run which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year and are looking for runners of all abilities to get involved! It’s time to take care of someone very important, the person you often forget to pay attention to – you! You can find out further information on our Flourish website.

You may also want to put a placeholder in your diaries for some of the campaigns and themes
we’ve got planned over the next six months including:

  • February – #LetsTalk
  • March – Nutrition, hydration and oral care
  • April – Financial Wellbeing
  • May – Dying Matters
  • June – #LetsCelebrate

Next month – ahead of the publication of the staff survey results – we’ve also arranged a Flourish engagement session with directorates to discuss what we think our priorities will be for the organisation, as well as within their own areas of work. The event takes place on Thursday 13 February at St James Park and each directorate has been asked to nominate four people to attend.

Other news

Catering visit – Earlier this week I was taken around the Freeman’s catering department, covering the store rooms, fridges, and, most importantly, kitchens and preparation area by John Thompson, Geoff Moyle, Kevin Potts and Iain Clarke. They took me through the process of preparing the meals for our patients – in total across the two sites this is around 5,000 meals a day. Our catering teams do an amazing job and I’m sure all of you will join me in passing on our appreciation for this.

Overseas support – Over the last 18 months the RVI has been supporting the Noor Hospital in
Kabul, Afghanistan – a charitable hospital and the largest eye teaching centre in the country. The
RVI started by donating some surplus equipment and more recently consultant physician, Richard
Newsom, spent a couple of weeks in Kabul training the Afghan surgeons in modern cataract
(phaco) surgery.

He describes the experience as a huge privilege (made possible through the support of Margaret
Grey and Phil Yates from the RVI) and would encourage anyone with an interest in Global
development to consider a trip to Afghanistan.

Catch us on TV – For any fans of Vera, series 10 starts at 8pm this Sunday (12 January), less
than four months since filming finished across various locations in the North East including at our
very own Freeman Hospital. There are four episodes in total – see if you can spot us!