NHS Long Term Plan

I hope by now you have seen or read something about the long awaited Long Term Plan (LTP) for the NHS. If you haven’t seen this yet you can read it by clicking here

Around the time the NHS celebrated its 70th birthday, there was extensive debate about the action required to tackle three major concerns – funding, increasing inequalities and pressures from a growing ageing population – and what action the NHS should take to continue medical advances and deliver better outcomes of care. In looking ahead to the NHS’s 80th birthday the NHS plan takes all three of these realities as its starting point.

To succeed we need to keep all that is good about care in Newcastle Hospitals and the NHS whilst at the same time tackling head on the pressures our staff face and making the extra funding go as far as possible. To do this we will need to accelerate our redesign of patient services to ‘future proof’ the NHS and our services in the decade ahead.

The publication of the NHS plan coincides with the work we have been doing on our five year strategy at NUTH. We will now take a little time to understand and distil the key points from the long term plan and make sure our own strategy aligns with it. We are aiming to publish our strategy in the new financial year. I will be encouraging debate and discussion on the priorities and focus we take across our hospitals and community services, but I am in no doubt the plan is in line with our thinking and has the potential to offer a great deal for our staff and patients.

In particular I would highlight:

  • The potential for new service models in areas such as community and primary care, in outpatients services and urgent and emergency care. The design of new service models will be underpinned with the publication of new standards in a range of clinical areas.
  • A focus on prevention. This is really important in Newcastle and the North East. We have a record of being one of the most successful organisations in the UK, but this is set against some of the poorest health outcomes. This is something I know we are all passionate about, the opportunity to reverse that trend for future generations and alleviate the current pressure on our services.
  • A focus on a range of clinical priorities and outcomes – including cancer, mental health, diabetes, multi-morbidity and healthy ageing including dementia. Also included will be children’s health, cardiovascular and respiratory conditions and learning disability among others.
  • A focus on measures to tackle our current workforce pressures. The NHS is the biggest employer in Europe and Newcastle Hospitals are among the largest employers in the North East. Our staff are our greatest asset but I know you are feeling the strain. There are a range of measures – the detail of which will be announced shortly which will support the NHS to address this. This will be one of our highest priorities going forward.
  • A wide ranging and funded programme to support us to go further and faster in upgrading technology and digitally enabled care across the NHS. We are already one of the UK’s most ‘digitally mature’ organisations as a global digital exemplar, but we know there is so much more we can do. I continue to feel as though the NHS is lagging behind many other sectors especially in online booking, access to records and information.
    A revised financial framework setting out how the 3.4% five year funding settlement will help put the NHS back into a sustainable financial path.

So there is a lot to feel optimistic about! We will engage with you to agree our priorities and approach. I suspect the plan will continue to be a topic of discussion over the months ahead.

Flourish #LetsMove

I have been really impressed with the take up for our January challenge. Over 80 teams and over 900 staff members from all across the Trust have entered and the activity being shared on Instagram and twitter has reached epic proportions. From a personal perspective I am definitely moving more!

I’ve also begun my training sessions in preparation for a couple of half marathons I have signed up for – including the world’s greatest half marathon – the Great North Run. I was delighted to meet with Brendan Foster this week to talk about how we can be inspired by this wonderful event on our doorstep to encourage and support people in our glorious city to move more.

The NHS website describes exercise as ‘the miracle cure we’ve always had’. There’s strong evidence that being physically active can help you lead a healthier and happier life. People who exercise regularly have a lower risk of developing many long-term conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and some cancers. Research shows that physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress, depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. So what’s not to like!

Our CQC inspection

As you know the CQC have been visiting us this week for our unannounced inspection. We have been keeping all staff up to date with daily briefings, and I hope that you feel well informed about their activity. I’m so grateful to every one of you for making sure that we were ready and prepared to receive our visitors, who took part in the recent focus groups and to everyone who has met with the inspectors this week. I’ve been keeping really close to the inspection activity this week and we have shared the same emotions. What I’ve seen and heard about how everyone has responded to the inspectors has been impressive. I know that some of you have spent hours talking to inspectors, explaining our services and providing evidence. It’s no mean feat and it’s made me very proud, so thank you.

The CQC will continue to look at the Trust and analyse the information they have found from their visits and the data we have submitted. They may make further requests for information, and may also undertake further visits. On 26th – 28th February a team will carry out three days of interviews with senior staff to complete the Well Led process. I will continue to ensure that all staff are kept up to speed with how it’s going.

Visit from Yvonne Coghill

Really insightful & interesting discussions about improving experience of BAME working in the NHS. This isn’t a process, it’s about getting to the heart of people’s values and beliefs & we’re up for this journey

Last week, we were delighted to welcome Yvonne Coghill, NHS England’s Director of WRES (Workforce Race Quality Standard), to the RVI to help support our focus on improving the experience of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) working across the NHS and in at Newcastle Hospitals in particular.

We want to ensure our organisation is truly an inclusive employer – a place where people can progress their careers to the highest levels if they wish – and we had some really insightful and interesting discussions with Yvonne and her colleague Owen Chinembiri.

The key message I took away with me is this isn’t just about process – it’s about getting to the heart of people’s values and beliefs and that’s a journey we are up for. It was also Yvonne’s first speaking event as Deputy President of the RCN so it was great that she also got to meet and chat with the senior nursing team.

As part of our ongoing work to enhance the experience of our BAME colleagues, we will be holding an inaugural conference later this year for BAME staff which I’ve asked Dee Fawcett and her team to develop in partnership with the BAME network and other colleagues


Flu is starting to circulate in the North East and sadly we are seeing previously healthy patients being admitted to our critical care units. Please do not take the risk with your health. You can still get your vaccine via a Peer Vaccinator (full list of vaccinators and their locations can be found on the Intranet) or you can email occupational health today: [email protected] to book an appointment – protect yourself, your family and our patients.

Out and about

On Tuesday and Thursday evenings this week I had the pleasure of meeting with our consultants to reflect on my first 8 months in post and think together about the challenges and opportunities for the future. We had a lively debate about the NHS Long Term Plan and our own Trust strategy. It was great to meet with so many of our dedicated team. I was struck by a tweet after the event from one of my colleagues who reflected on the number of true specialist expertise in the room – many key leaders in their individual fields.

The Trust will also be ‘out and about’ on the region’s roads from next week as our recruitment campaign takes to the rear of a local bus! It will tour the roads around Newcastle for the next 12 months as a small part of our wider external recruitment campaign ‘Your Future Starts Here’. This focuses on promoting the Trust as an ‘employer of choice’ to support the workforce challenges we are facing. Keep an eye out for the bus and tweet us if you see it out and about!

Staff survey winners

Carol Gilhespy, Clinical Educator, who won a prize in our Staff Survey Prize Draw

Carole Gillespie, Lead Clinical Pharmacist – Antimicrobial, who won a prize in our Staff Survey Prize Draw. Congratulations to Susan Sanderson, Domestic Assistant at the Freeman Hospital and Carol Gilhespy, Clinical Educator, who won our Staff Survey prize draw. I would like to thank everyone again who completed this year’s staff survey and #hadmysay. I anticipate that we will be able to share the results in late February and look forward to using your voice to shape future developments.

Award winners

Congratulations to our Personal Touch Award winners for this quarter:

  • Sarah Barker, Staff Nurse, Ward 18, RVI
  • Debbie Lawson, Nurse Specialist – Children’s Cardiac, Paediatric Cardiology Specialty,
    Freeman Hospital
  • Ward 34, NCCC, Freeman Hospital.

Congratulations to our staff who have been shortlisted for the Unsung Hero Awards:

  • Everyday Hero Award (IT) – Sean Dodds – IT Development Manager
  • Team of the Year (IT) – IT Development Team
  • Leader of the Year (Ancillary staff) – Jeff Potts – Mortuary Operations Manager
  • Lifetime Service Award – Derek Airey – Chairman of the Freeman Hospital Lung and Heart Transplant Association
  • Special Mention Award – Donna McKenna – a Biomedical Scientist in Cellular Pathology for around 30 years who continued to work in laboratories despite a diagnosis of long term terminal cancer and died in May last year.