Living our values

I’m sure you were all equally pleased and relieved to hear the Prime Minister speak on Monday evening about the progress the UK is making which has enabled us to ease further the lockdown in England.

Deaths and hospitalisations from COVID-19 are now at their lowest level since July and since the vaccination rollout began, NHS staff have now delivered over 45 million first and second doses.

Here in the Trust, we are still seeing a very small number (single figures) of patients needing care due

to COVID-19 and the regional vaccination programme that we are leading has delivered over 2.3 million first and second dose vaccines.

Our own team of vaccinators for the Trust outside in the Great North Children's Hospital playground
Some of our RVI vaccinator team celebrating the end of the vaccination programme at the Trust

Our own team within the Trust has also, over the last 4 months, vaccinated more than 16,000 staff, volunteers, contractors, students which is a fantastic achievement.

Finally, thank goodness, it feels like we are a long way away from the distressing situation in the early months of this year when we were caring for high numbers of very sick patients from across the region and wider UK.

From Monday, we will be able to enjoy many of the freedoms that we have been missing – for me the most important part of that will be the chance to spend more time with my family and friends.

I’m sure each of us will treasure the time that we spend with our loved ones and perhaps it’s fair to say that the pandemic has taught us that we shouldn’t take those simple things for granted.

Whilst this – together with the continued roll-out of vaccinations – is a positive step in the route back to a more normal way of life, it’s so important we do not become complacent and risk all the hard work and collective effort that every one of us has put in over the last year.

Keith Yeomans cutting the Angel of the North cake he presented to NHS staff on Critical Care unit
Keith Yeomans thanked the staff for saving his life with a special Angel of the North cake (photo credit: Chronicle Live)

I was touched to see one of the patients who was transferred to us from Birmingham at the height of the most recent wave of the pandemic return to visit us last week. Keith Yeomans and his wife Merle spoke to the media about their gratitude and admiration for the support they received from our intensive care team during that difficult time. They also brought a lovely gift of a personalised cake to thank their ‘Angels of the North’.

I often hear from patients who have experienced our care and who want to take the time to say thank you. The emails and letters I receive are sometimes filled with hope and sometimes with tragedy, but always what shines through is the very human connection that patients and families have made with members of staff, and the outstanding care and compassion they received.

I’ve been reflecting back on our trust values and how those values shine through everything we have done throughout the pandemic and more broadly this year. You will remember that our values were developed wholly by our staff, and then later with input from the Board, Governors, managers and senior clinicians.

Perhaps that is why they resonate so clearly with us all and are such a good way to describe the exceptional approach staff take every day. They are important because they guide everything that we do, not just in our approach to patients, but in every aspect of our work and they underpin our #FlourishAtNewcastleHospitals approach and the culture we are fostering in our organisation.

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.

As the UK unlocks, it feels like we’re being able to focus once more on some broader priorities in the Trust as well. As a senior team we have been developing our ‘breakthrough’ objectives for this year – the key actions that we will focus on achieving – which we think will make the biggest difference across our organisation and I’ll talk more about these in my next blog.

In the last fortnight, we’ve been able to celebrate our nurses and midwives and the care that they provide though their international recognition days. We celebrated International Day of the Midwife on 5 May and International Nurses Day on 12 May, and you can see our videos to mark those events here:

Medical director Andy Welch raises the pride progress flag at the Freeman Hospital with other members of staff
Our medical director, Andy Welch was in charge of raising the Pride progress flag at the Freeman Hospital

It’s been equality, diversity and inclusion week this week and I was very proud to raise the pride progress flag at the RVI on Monday while our medical director, Andy Welch was in charge of proceedings at the Freeman Hospital. Making sure that we continue to focus on Newcastle Hospitals being a place that welcomes everyone and supports our individual needs is something that I am absolutely committed to.

We all have a personal role to play in creating a fairer and more inclusive NHS for patients and staff and I hope everyone will have taken the opportunity to attend some of the wonderful events that were curated by the team.

Also of course it’s been Dying Matters week, which focussed on the importance of being in a good place to die. I know the palliative care team worked incredibly hard to raise awareness of this important issue during the week, not only so that we can think about our patients, but our own wishes as well.

Thank you to everyone for challenging yourselves, for continually learning and for living our values each day.

Move more

Thanks to everyone who has already signed up to our Flourish #MoveMore challenge which starts on Monday (17 May). There’s still time for teams of up to six to enter, with the aim of getting in 8,000 steps a day for four weeks.

To register, get your colleagues together, email us your team name, the department you work for and team members’ names to [email protected]

The rules are really simple. Each Monday, a team lead should the total amount of steps (or equivalent) through the Flourish website and we’ll update our score board and map so you can plot your progress.


We’re always looking at new ways we can support staff wellbeing so it was fitting that as part of Mental Health Awareness Week we’re able to provide a new resource for our workforce. Togetherall is an independent, anonymous, online mental health & wellbeing service that is freely available to all Newcastle Hospitals staff.

Togetherall supports immediate and longer-term mental health or situational distress, enabling you to feel more in control of your emotional health as well as offering a range of activities that allow you to work through what is troubling you.

To find out more about being part of the Togetherall community visit the Togetherall Website.

NHIP Event

On 8 June, I’ll be joining the virtual Newcastle Health Innovation Partners (NHIP) Ambition 2025 event to talk about the importance of research and the need for an integrated healthcare system.

The NHIP is one of only eight Academic Health Science Centres in the UK whose mission is to combine excellence in research, health, education, and patient care to improve the health of local people.

I really encourage you to join the event to find out more about the NHIP’s ambitions and have the opportunity share your thoughts on how it can develop. To register, click here.

Awards and achievements

RCR Honours

Congratulations to Dr Judith Mott who was awarded an Honorary Membership by the Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) at the Admission Ceremony in April.

Honorary Membership is awarded to those who have promoted the interests of clinical radiology or clinical oncology and made notable contributions to either.

You can find out more about Dr Judith Mott’s work here.

The PERFORM project wins the PIER prize

The PERFORM project was awarded the PIER prize by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health for their engagement and collaboration with children and young people to develop new molecular tests. The team includes Dr Emma Lim, Professor Marieke Emonts, Dr Jo Ball, Dr Jethro Herberg and Young Person’s Advisory Group North East (YPAG-ne).