Newcastle’s NMAHPs Strategy – One Year On

Nurses, midwives and allied health professionals (NMAHPS) are our largest collective workforce in Newcastle Hospitals, with 7,000 staff working across acute and community care settings.

It’s been just over a year since our five-year NMAHPs strategy was launched and today our Executive Chief Nurse, Maurya Cushlow, provides an update on the fantastic progress that has been made.

It’s hard to believe a year has already passed since our strategy was launched, yet despite all the

challenges facing the trust – and wider NHS – our teams are starting to embed this across Newcastle Hospitals. I recognise there is still so much work to do to ensure that this strategy feels relevant and meaningful for staff in all wards and departments and this must be our focus for the year ahead.

In recognition of our first year, we held a week-long celebration event in November – developed by and for staff – to share the patient-centred initiatives they have led on, challenging traditional approaches and breaking down barriers to improve care and outcomes.

I am immensely proud of all the important work that has been done which was reflected in the almost 100 posters on display at the event.

Today I would like to share some of your achievements over the last 12 months, mapped against our strategy priorities, and say a huge thank you for everything you do for our patients.

Improving quality and reducing patient harms

A key priority is ensuring patients receive compassionate, safe and effective care. To do that, our staff use evidence, research and best practice, whilst supporting patients to make informed choices.

This year we relaunched our Dementia Care Plan, Palliative Care Strategy and Food and Drink Strategy and have been working hard to embed the priorities of these across the trust. Thanks to staff across our wards and departments, we have made great made great strides with malnutrition screening and this month held a Nutrition and Hydration Conference attended by over 100 delegates. This is a fundamental pillar of our professional practice and I was pleased to see so many at this event learning and sharing together.

Our Newcastle Specialist Continence Care team have several projects underway to help improve the quality of life for people affected by continence issues and were once again recognised nationally, winning the British Journal of Nursing ‘Continence Nurse of the Year’ award two years in a row as well as the Silver Award this year.

Developing a workforce strategy, plan and metrics for improvement

We couldn’t achieve all we do without our staff and will continually work towards ensuring you feel supported and valued to deliver high quality care. Working in partnership with key therapy leaders we have jointly:

  • Injected new energy into our nursing and healthcare support worker recruitment processes, generating greater interest from around UK and further afield.
  • Witnessed international recruitment (IR) go from strength to strength to ensure our overseas nurses and midwives are supported. Senior nurse for IR, Audrey Tapang, won the Nursing Times ‘Overseas Nurse of the Year’ Award in recognition of the team’s efforts.
  • Reinvigorated our support for newly appointed staff opening a state-of-the-art home for our Healthcare Support Worker Academy (we also celebrated 10 years since the Healthcare Academy first opened) and relaunched a preceptorship programme.
  • Recognised staff through various events including a Workforce Development Congress for AHPs and an Award Ceremony for AHP support staff.
  • Watched HCSW colleagues progress into Nursing Associate roles with some of them, alongside a number of our Assistant Practitioners, take up the opportunity of an 18-month Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship leading to qualification as a registered nurse. You can see how we are ‘growing our own’ workforce here.

Our Healthcare Support Worker Recruitment Team and our Paediatric International Recruitment Team are also shortlisted for two more Nursing Times Workforce Awards next Tuesday. Good luck everyone!

Ensuring NMAHPs can liberate their potential is important and all staff can access funding support in the way of continuous professional development (CPD). At the end of October, we had received over 3,500 applications and invested over £3.5m to ensure staff had access to a wide range of funded CPD opportunities.

Using the skills and expertise of our staff, we have been able to introduce the Newcastle Clinical Skills Academy which is building a prospectus of high quality learning programmes. Do visit the Academy website to see what’s on offer.

Developing leadership capacity, capability and resilience

Leadership is a lifelong journey of experiences, learning and personal development and we work hard to support our professional leaders as well as developing our leaders of the future – nurturing them through a range of career progression and leadership opportunities.

We supported 600 NMAHPs to take part in our collaborative Leading an Empowered Organisation (LEO) programme as well as many internal and external offers such as Coaching and Mentorship, the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) and the NHS Leadership Academy.

The Trust won the ‘Best Workforce for Learning and Development’ category in the Nursing Times Workforce Awards for their leadership programme ‘Maximising your potential’ in collaboration with NHS Arden and Gem CSU, providing development support for staff with protected characteristics.

A new ward managers’ handbook – a ‘toolkit’ providing signposts for newly appointed ward leaders when faced with commonly encountered issues – was launched and we are establishing a robust network of Professional Nurse Advocates (PNAs) to support the health and wellbeing of our nursing workforce.

Engaging for improvement

By actively engaging with staff we can ensure they feel valued and supported, as well as empowered to bring about clinical effectiveness and quality improvements, influencing and shaping the way patient care is delivered.

There were dozens of examples of superb QI projects from across wards and departments, acute and community, at our NMAHP Strategy Celebration events and in October we shared the great work achieved by 22 teams from Cohort 3 of the Improvement for Teams Programme.

Specialist pelvic health physiotherapists won this year’s Q Factor Awards for their commitment to improving the patient experience for overactive bladders and this year’s awards are now open for applications with a deadline of 31 January 2023.

Through ‘What matters to you’ sessions we have also introduced a range of health and wellbeing resources, renewed flexible working and retirement policies and more recently set up dedicated Menopause at work support sessions which have been very well received.

Increasing research opportunities and impact

Building on our reputation as a national leader in research is a key priority for us and in August 2022 we launched our NMAHPs Researcher Development Institute (RDI) thanks to a major £3.2m grant from our colleagues at Newcastle Hospitals Charity.

We have since welcomed 13 NMAHP RDI Fellows and supported peers at regional and national level. In September, our NMAHP Research Lead, Dr Linda Tinkler, delivered a presentation on the RDI and its impact at the Royal College of Nursing International Nursing Research Conference and a paper for publication in a peer reviewed journal is due to be submitted imminently.

Newcastle’s 4Ps Researcher Development Programme also goes from strength to strength and is now available to NMAHPs from other health and social care organisations. You can find out more on our Newcastle Clinical Skills Academy website.

Leading the digital healthcare agenda

Our priority must be to ensure our digital systems support professional decision making and not replace it. We have work to do in the year ahead to ensure we deliver on this, with front line staff leading and influencing our digital agenda.

The trust’s digital health team has continued to grow drawing on expertise from both community and hospital-based NMAHPs with a special interest in the digitisation of health documentation, dashboards and other mechanisms to support colleagues.

BadgerNet App was introduced across our Maternity Unit, replacing paper records across the trust and community settings so expectant parents can now access their maternity healthcare records from their mobile device or computer and this is now being rolled out in neonates.

We have made great progress in this last year but we know through our discussions with staff and the feedback that we receive there is still so much more we can do together to grow and develop across – and within – our professional groups and continue to bring this strategy to life. For that we need your help. Take time to think about what this might mean to you in your working practice, when opportunities come along, please get involved and engaged or feedback your thoughts, suggestions to [email protected].

Society of Radiographers visit

The President of the Society of Radiographers, Dave Pilborough, visited the Freeman Hospital recently as part of his Big Conversation tour, speaking directly with therapeutic and diagnostic radiographers across the Trust to hear how the society can support staff working in radiography.

Dave met with a wide range of radiographers from apprentices to service managers, including Sharron Driver, radiotherapy service manager at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care, Graeme Hughes, manager at Freeman X-Ray, and Rachel Wighton and Louise Dixon from the RVI Breast Unit. Livvy Whelpton and Sarah Elliot, local Society of Radiographers representatives also met with Dave to share feedback from members.

This was a great opportunity for all radiographers in the Trust to showcase their departments and raise important issues about workforce challenges and the work we are doing to promote careers in radiography through apprenticeship opportunities and supporting advanced practice roles.

Advancing research

Clinical trials and research are fundamental to improving healthcare and finding even more effective treatments. We’ve had a strong research programme at Newcastle Hospitals for many years, working with partners to stay at the forefront of advanced clinical trials and innovation and bring cutting-edge care to patients and thanks to a major new investment, this will be strengthened even further.

This week, the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) confirmed an injection of £3million in new funding, which will allow us to establish a HealthTech Research Centre – one of only 14 in the country – to expand vital research and diagnostic work with partners including Newcastle University.

The centre will help to grow the development of new diagnostic devices and digital technology, including the use of artificial intelligence, which will allow people to monitor their own health more easily, assist with earlier diagnosis of illness, and improve the management of health conditions.

Also this week, the Department of Health and Social Care confirmed we had been successful in our bid to host the NIHR Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria for a further five years. This builds on a nine-year partnership, which has seen a number of ground-breaking successes in improving access to potentially life-changing clinical trials. You can read more here.

Refurbishment of operating theatres

Work has begun on a complete refurbishment and upgrade of our operating theatres at the RVI and Freeman Hospital. The RVI Leazes Wing theatres 7 and 8 have been revamped with new lighting, flooring and the latest state-of-the-art equipment and are now welcoming patients and staff, with the recovery area and theatres 5 and 6 due for completion before the end of the year.

Our staff rest areas on both sites have also been remodelled and transformed to provide a comfortable space to take a break. The areas can also be opened-up to provide an excellent space for training and development.

Future refurbishments to Leazes Wing theatres 3 and 4 will allow us to use these theatres more efficiently to carry out surgery requiring ultra flow technology, such as orthopaedic procedures, which previously could only be carried out in theatres elsewhere on the hospital site. My thanks to everyone involved.

Pride Network Co-Chair

We have an exciting opportunity for someone to become the new co-chair of our Pride network. As co-chair you will work closely with the existing co-chair, Darren Castle-Beal, as well as the other staff networks to help shape the network’s activity moving forward.

You will have a strategic role in representing the vision and purpose of the network across the Trust and help develop organisational change with LGBTQ+ issues at the heart. Our staff networks are instrumental in creating an inclusive culture within Newcastle Hospitals where staff can feel supported, valued, respected and listened to.

Please submit your expression of interest to [email protected] and include a short biography of yourself and what you feel you could bring to the role of co-chair, by 5pm next Friday (24 November). Further information about the role can be found here.

Awards and achievements

Huge congratulations to the breast radiography team who won the Regional Team of the Year Award at the Society of Radiographers Radiography Awards 2023. Our Newcastle service provides three-yearly screening for over 140,000 patients across the region.

In addition to screening 700 patients each week, the team also supports a full symptomatic service with assessment clinics, one-stop clinics, young person clinics, tumour localisation and contrast enhanced mammography. They are brilliantly supported by an admin team who work hard in the background to make sure clinics are set up and patients get their results in a timely manner.

I know this award recognises the dedication, compassion and patient-centred focus of the whole team and is well deserved.