Healthcare at its best, with people at our heart

I’ve been CEO in Newcastle for 16 months now and I feel I’ve been here long enough to develop a good understanding of the place and the people. I understand our history, I’m clear about our challenges and I’m excited about our shared opportunities.

As Chief Executive, my role is to be a steward for our organisation and to ensure that we can fulfil our potential and continue to be one of the best NHS organisations in
the UK.

Having a clear strategy for the next five years is very important. It provides us with compass points to guide our journey ahead. It will ensure that all of the different parts of this large and complex organisation are broadly aligned. If we get our strategy right, each of us, in every role, will be able to see our own contribution.

There is a story about President Kennedy visiting NASA for the first time in 1961. During his tour he spoke to a janitor mopping the floor and asked him what his job was. His famous reply was ‘I’m helping to put a man on the moon.’ The janitor knew his contribution helped to reach that strategic objective and I hope that everyone here is able to see their unique contribution to our bigger picture.

Our new strategy is headlined ‘Healthcare at its best, with people at our heart’. It includes a new vision for the Trust as well as new values. Alongside this we have set out our ambitions and the strategic framework which will help us to deliver objectives over the next five years.

We have also taken the opportunity to develop new corporate branding which reflects the title of the strategy. All of this work has been developed by staff through our Flourish events; senior managers and clinicians through the Trust Management Group; our Council of Governors and with support from our partners the Good Governance Institute. Hopefully you will be able to see that our new strategy and branding is an evolution from the outstanding work that has brought us to our current successful position and puts us in a positive place for the future. I will talk more about our ambitions and strategic framework in my next blog, but first wanted to focus on our vision and values.

Our new vision is:

‘Newcastle Hospitals – Achieving local excellence and global reach through compassionate and innovative healthcare, education and research.’

Our vision expresses our collective aspiration and purpose. It summarises our desire to achieve the

highest standards in service delivery, improve health for local people and capitalise on our world class expertise and research capability. We want to build on our secure foundation of proud and caring staff, delivering excellent healthcare and outstanding performance.

Our Trust values were developed wholly by our staff initially through a Flourish event, and the

n later with input from the Board, Governors, managers and senior clinicians. So far almost everyone has commented that they are a good way to describe the exceptional approach staff take every day and feel very much like ‘us’. Our values are important because they will guide everything that we do as we grow to achieve our vision.

Our values are:

  • We care and are kind – We care for our patients and their families, and we care for each other as colleagues.
  • We have high standards – We work hard to make sure that we deliver the very best standards of care in the NHS. We are constantly seeking to improve.
  • We are inclusive – Everyone is welcome here. We value and celebrate diversity, challenge discrimination and support equality. We actively listen to different voices.
  • We are innovative – We value research, we seek to learn and to create and apply new knowledge.
    We are proud – We take huge pride in working here and we all contribute to our ongoing success.

Our new strategy and all the parts contained within it will be officially launched at our Annual Members Meeting and review of the year which will be held on Friday 27 September in the Clinical Education Centre, RVI. Everyone is welcome to visit stalls showcasing some of our services from 10am – 11am, and the formal meeting will be held from 11am – 12noon.

Would you like to be our poster model?
We’d love to have staff representing our new vision, values and strategy on the posters and images we will use in the trust, online and in our broader work. Our professional photo shoot will be on Thursday 19 September (RVI) and Friday 20 September (Freeman) although staff working in other venues should still get in touch. If you would like to take part please contact [email protected]


As you will know, this month our #FlourishAtNewcastleHospitals campaign is #SleepWell.

Fatigue can have a huge impact on our health and wellbeing, both physically and mentally, and shouldn’t be accepted as simply being part of working in the health service. We have a responsibility – and duty – to look after ourselves and each other so we can provide the best, and safest, care for our patients.

Many of us need to work shifts to care for our patients both day and night. And for all of us, a good night’s sleep is really important.

Our Flourish website has resources to help you to get a good night’s sleep, find out about the dangers of driving when tired and includes posters to help you get the best out of your shifts.

We have also been celebrating the benefits of physical activity by holding the first NHS wave of the Great North 5k on 7 September at Newcastle Quayside. It was wonderful to see over 150 of our staff and NHS colleagues take part in this event, some running, some walking and all of them having a lot of fun in the sunshine. Physical activity is one of the best things we can all do to stay fit and healthy and I’m keen that we support each other to stay active. I was delighted to hear that there has been huge interest in the Trust running clubs ‘ANutherMile’ that met for the first time this week. If you would like to take part or find out more you can contact Workforce Development Officer Carrie Walton on extension 31614, email [email protected] you can also follow the group on Twitter @ANuTHerMile

Carrie featured in the Great North Run magazine this year and her running story is inspirational. If you’re looking for some motivation you can read it here.

What an experience, a huge thank you to everyone who sponsored me

Of course I also ran this year’s half marathon and was delighted to raise over £1,200 for the Great North

Children’s Hospital. I’d been told that it would be a great experience, but I’m not sure that anything could have prepared me for this iconic North East event. It really is the best half marathon in the world, and was an amazing day. ‘Well done’ to everyone who ran – whether it was for one of our Trust charity funds, or just for fun.

I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Next year will be the
40th anniversary of the run and I’m hoping that we can continue to build the relationship between GNR and the Trust – building up our NHS Blue Wave.

Our Flourish programme has gone from strength to strength over the past year, and that’s thanks to the many members of staff who have contributed by getting involved, getting active, baking cakes on occasion, and generally taking part. Our next Flourish event will give us the chance to take a stock-take and think about where we can go next to support everyone to liberate their full potential at work.
I hope you will be able to join me in the Great North Museum on Thursday 24 October between 2pm and 4pm. If you would like to attend please email [email protected]
We are also planning our next leadership congress, aimed at leaders and aspiring leaders, on Wednesday 27 November in the Great North Museum. Please save the date in your diaries.

We also have two other important events coming up:

Our BAME conference ‘Closing the Gap’ on 1 October is an all-day event at St James Park. The conference will focus on the national and local perspective and give personal insights from people who have progressed in their chosen field. We hope it will be a starting point to remove barriers in the workplace and I’d encourage staff to sign up.

Project Menopause will be holding two events on Monday 16 September in the Piano Room, RVI, and Monday 23 September in function room 138, Freeman, both from 5pm to 6.30pm. More information is available on the home-page banner of the intranet and everyone is welcome to
join us.

Flu campaign launch

As September draws to an end in the next couple of weeks, our thoughts will start to turn towards the winter and I hope that everyone will be prioritising their flu jab. The jab is a reliable and safe way to protect yourself from this very serious illness.

As NHS staff we are at risk from flu while we are caring for patients.
We can also cause serious harm to our patients if we are not vaccinated and pass the virus onto people who are at their most vulnerable.

Our flu clinics start on Monday 23 September and you can
get up-to-date information and clinic times on the intranet.

Out and about

With Andy Burnham at NHS Expo in Manchester

I was pleased to speak at NHS Expo in Manchester last week alongside NHS Chief Executive, Simon Stevens and the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, about our Climate Emergency declaration.

Newcastle Hospitals’ Declaration of a Climate Emergency on 27 June was the first to be undertaken by an NHS organisation and represents an important step in formally recognising the scale of the crisis and the need for urgent action. More recently Greater Manchester became the first Integrated Care System to declare a climate emergency, following in our footsteps.

I spoke about the enthusiasm and passion that I’ve seen here from so many different staff across the Trust who feel empowered to be able to make changes that will protect our planet. I’m very proud of the action we’re taking alongside our civic partners in the city. It really is an area where everyone can make a difference.
By acknowledging our responsibilities to the population we now serve and to future generations, we hope that we can provide the impetus for others in embedding sustainable healthcare across the NHS as a whole.

Next Friday (20 September) represents an important day for the thousands of young people across the world who will take action through a global climate strike to secure their own futures in the face of environmental breakdown. We are using this day as an opportunity to explain our climate emergency declaration to our patients, visitors and staff through a series of activities and events including public information points and an 11 minute teach-in at 11 am to reflect the 11 years we have remaining to limit the worst effects of global heating.

While in Manchester I also attended the NHS Assembly. The assembly meetings bring together a fascinating mix of NHS leaders, patient activists and other supporters to engage in, challenge and support the continuing development of the Long Term Plan.

Service developments and achievements

  • We recently received excellent feedback from patients in the national cancer patient experience survey, with the Trust rated amongst the best performing in the country. Listening to our patients, carers and their loved ones is essential to help ensure we continue to provide high quality care and the outcomes of this survey is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our staff, although there are always areas where we can make improvements.
  • We recently became the first Trust in the UK to offer home treatment to severe asthma patients, rather than them having to make regular trips to hospital. The drug mepolizumab, which is used to treat a rare type of asthma, usually has to be administered by a healthcare professional to patients every four weeks. Now they can self-administer in the comfort of their own home through a pre-filled pen or syringe – a great example of innovation which best fits patients’ needs