Looking ahead

In my last blog, I focussed on our trust values which define what is important to all of us who work at Newcastle Hospitals, and guide how we behave towards each other and our patients.

I promised that in this edition I would let you know about our strategic ‘breakthrough’ objectives for the 12 months ahead, and it’s helpful to do that in the context of our Trust Strategy.

Many of you will remember that we developed our strategy, vision and values in 2019. Through many discussions with directorate teams, our Board of Directors agreed that our vision would be:

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

Little did we know of the challenges we would have to rise to, or the responsibilities we would need to accept. Nevertheless, as we emerge from the pandemic our vision and the rest of our strategy remains as valid as it ever was.

You’ll remember that our overall strategy sets out how we will deliver ‘Healthcare at its best, with people at our heart’ and that our 5 Ps’ provide a strategic framework for everything we do.

These 5 Ps’ are:

Patients – putting patients at the heart of everything we do. Providing care of the highest standard focussing on quality and safety

People – Supported by Flourish, our cornerstone programme, we will ensure that each member of staff is able to liberate their potential

Partnerships – We will be an effective partner, developing and delivering integrated care and playing our part in local, regional, national and international programmes

Pioneers – ensuring that we are at the forefront of health innovation and research

Performance – being outstanding, now and in the future

I hope that everyone, in every part of our organisation, is able to see how their role makes an important contribution towards achieving our aims.

We want our strategy to be a living document, which inspires and empowers everyone who works here, and through our #FlourishAtNewcastleHospitals programme we hope to strengthen that ambition and support everyone to make a difference.

Each year we review how we have progressed towards delivering our strategy and agree new actions to help us take forward. Our strategy and annual plans also provide a framework for individual services to consider their priorities and plans to contribute towards our overall direction.

This year, of course, is different from the usual annual planning cycle as we have had such a substantial emergency response to deliver, and so much uncertainty to deal with. But it’s important that we shift our thinking to the medium term so that we can continue to grow.

With this in mind, we’ve agreed the following ‘breakthrough’ objectives for the year ahead which are, without doubt, incredibly challenging.

Our success will only be achieved if we use our enabling tools – such as our digital transformation and our continuous quality improvement approach ‘Newcastle Improvement’ – and deliver these within the culture and climate of our Flourish organisational development framework.


  • Reduce days away from home and treat more patients by creating two dedicated day case units.
  • Enhance care for women and improve conditions for staff, by improving our maternity estate.


  • Help our workforce to recover and liberate their potential. Ensure every staff member has a wellbeing conversation.
  • Introduce new ways to listen to staff and act on feedback e.g. pulse surveys and focus groups to gauge staff experience, assess impact and make real time changes.


  • Streamline patient pathways through integration and collaboration.
  • Develop inter-trust collaborations and effective system working at ICP (Integrated Care Partnership) and ICS (Integrated Care System) levels across cardiac, musculoskeletal and ophthalmology services in particular.


  • Building resilience in healthcare, complete phase 1 of planning a new specialist hospital build.
  • Train over 200 staff in frontline continuous quality improvement to provide high quality care to patients.


  • Tackle long waiting lists, specifically reducing long waiters from 6600 to less than 3000 via our recovery plus programme.
  • Use health data to better inform decision making and deliver improved outcomes.

Over the next few weeks in my blogs I’ll highlight some of these different areas and explain more about our ambitious plans and how they will help us to enhance patient care and continue to reach the outstanding standards that we all aspire to.

In the meantime, I’d like to thank everyone for the contribution that each of you provides to our high standards of patient care. I know that every service remains under pressure and it’s important to say how much your efforts are appreciated. Please take care of yourselves and each other.

Leadership Congress

Well over 100 leaders from across the organisation came together earlier this month (13 May) for our leadership congress where we focussed on our Flourish programme, our organisation and how we can all contribute to making Newcastle Hospitals the very best organisation that it can be.

It was great to see such a good mix of clinical leaders, directorate and corporate managers and nurse leaders taking part in the event and sharing their ideas and experiences.

We’ve talked a lot over the past three years about Flourish and have made good progress in developing our organisational culture. This has taken on new meaning as we have all experienced the pandemic and have an opportunity now to accelerate positive changes.

At the meeting we thought about what makes a good day at work, and how we can change the things that get in the way of a good day at work.

As you know, we’re working with the Institute of Health Improvement (IHI) to support both our continuous quality improvement programme and our Flourish at Newcastle Hospitals programme. We’d like to make sure that as many people as possible are able to contribute to this work and over the next few weeks we’ll be having broader conversations across the trust to hear ‘what matters to you’.

If you’d like to share your thoughts, you can also email [email protected]

International Clinical Trials Day

Last week was International Clinical Trials Day which is held on 20 May each year to commemorate the day that James Lind began the first randomised clinical trial in 1747.

It also allowed us to take a moment to recognise and say thank you to our research teams, staff, patients and partners involved in vital clinical trials and research and I shared a snapshot of some of our amazing achievements over the last year.

Learning from our patients

At yesterday’s Board, we shared the experience of Keith who was transferred to the intensive care unit at the RVI from Birmingham in the midst of the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Keith spent five weeks in intensive care, plus another three weeks in the high dependency unit, before returning to his home city in March to finish his recovery in hospital there. He recently came back to Newcastle to present an ‘Angel of the North’ cake to the staff and we are really grateful to him for agreeing to share his story.

Cancer Centre

The project to build a new cancer centre in north Cumbria reached an exciting milestone this week after the keys to the new building were officially handed over.

The Northern Centre for Cancer Care, North Cumbria  is a partnership with North Cumbria Integrated Care and will welcome its first patients this summer. The new centre will improve cancer services for patients all over north Cumbria, meaning that more people can have treatment closer to home.

Pioneering gene therapy trial

Neuromuscular experts in Newcastle have enrolled the UK’s first patient with Duchenne muscular dystrophy as they embark on a world-leading gene therapy trial.

The pioneering trial’s milestone is a collaborative effort involving teams from the RVI’s NIHR Newcastle Clinical Research Facility and Great North Children’s Hospital and John Walton Muscular Dystrophy Research Centre. You can find out more about this pioneering trial on our website.

Move More

Thank you to the dozens of teams who have completed the first week of our #MoveMore challenge – a four-week event to motivate us to get our 8,000 steps in each day. The first leg of our tour of the UK is complete – Step and Deliver are currently top of our leader board with an impressive 619,875 steps. You can plot the progress of individual teams through our Flourish website and please share your weekly updates with us on social media.