On Wednesday (5 July), we will celebrate the 75th birthday of the National Health Service so I wanted to pause and reflect on the incredible achievements of this institution which I am so proud to be a part of.

The NHS was founded by Minister of Health, Nye Bevan on the principle that healthcare should be available to all, regardless of their ability to pay. This vision has been realised through the hard work and dedication of countless clinical, administrative and support staff who have worked tirelessly to provide high-quality care to patients for the last 75 years.

As we know so well, the NHS has faced many challenges – from financial pressures to changing demographics, advances in medical technology and of course, most recently, the disruption caused by the pandemic. Despite these challenges, the NHS – and our part of it here in Newcastle Hospitals – has remained steadfast in our commitment to providing the best possible care to patients.

I was drawn to this quote from Nye Bevan in 1948 as he set out his plans to establish the NHS: “We will never have all we need. Expectation will always exceed capacity. This service must always be changing, growing and improving, it must always appear inadequate.’ Bevan could see that as we would develop new treatments and technologies that would transform the way we provide healthcare, demand would not reduce.

From the discovery of antibiotics to the development of new cancer treatments, the NHS has been at the forefront of medical innovation, helping to save countless lives and improve the quality of life for millions of people, but more will always be needed and our constant challenge is to balance the resources we have, to make the greatest impact.

Of course, at the heart of the NHS is our talented, dedicated and diverse workforce, and as I write this, we are hearing that the long-awaited NHS workforce plan will shortly be published. I hope that this is a worthy birthday present for the NHS, which will enable investment in our current and future staff to ensure the best quality of care will be provided into the future, for generations to come.

Here in Newcastle Hospitals, we’ve been reflecting on the history and achievements of our organisation and want to celebrate the dedication of our thousands of staff and volunteers. You can see our NHS75 timeline here and I would encourage you to watch our archive film showing a day in the life of the RVI in 1957 which gives a fascinating glimpse into our past.

As a small gesture to mark this special anniversary – and with the support of Newcastle Hospitals Charity – we have partnered with Greggs to offer all Newcastle Hospitals staff a voucher for a free hot drink and sweet treat. Full details on how to redeem your voucher codes are available in the In Brief and on the intranet.

Activity is planned across the trust and in the wider city next week, a full list is available on the intranet, but some highlights include:

  • Newcastle Hospitals Charity is selling a range of memorabilia which is available at The Great North Children’s Hospital Foundation pop-up shop at the New Victoria Wing of the RVI and at the concourse shop at the Freeman near the hospital’s main entrance. The online shop also has a variety of items to purchase.
  • Key landmarks including the Civic Centre, Tyne Bridge and the Millennium Bridge will all be lit up in blue to mark the anniversary.
    Look out for our new timeline boards around our main sites that show the history of the NHS, including some key milestones for Newcastle Hospitals and in clinical research.
  • NHS75parkrun will take place at Jesmond Dene where everyone is welcome and you can walk, jog, run or volunteer.
  • We also have a number of musical performances in different locations, including the GNCH Singers who will be performing on Wednesday (5 July) from 12.30pm in the RVI Atrium.

How ever you choose to celebrate, I hope you will take a moment to reflect on the contribution that you have made to our NHS, regardless of how long or short your service has been. Thank you all.

Information Management and Technology directorate visit

Last week I spent time with our dedicated colleagues in the Information Management and Technology (IM&T) directorate based at Regent Point, covering diverse teams from switchboard to service desk, clinical coding to project delivery.










The directorate is made up of nearly 200 staff who support our clinical, operational, and corporate teams and all locations throughout Newcastle and  other regional locations across the North East and North Cumbria.

The team supports every single member of staff by working hard behind the scenes to maintain our systems, ensuring they are operational and secure whilst also introducing new technology solutions.

It’s important that we remember and appreciate the 24/7 service they provide and the benefits the technology they support brings to us and our patients.

IT glitches can be frustrating when we have all come to rely on technology so much, and I heard about how much the team appreciate it when staff show consideration of the challenges faced in resolving these issues.

I was pleased to learn about planned enhancements which will make it easier for users to interact with the service and get quick resolution to their problems. As our digital maturity grows, the effort required to maintain service also increases.

We are on the cusp of some truly exciting digital transformations within health and social care, which will have a significant impact on patient care and clinical practice including our Patient Engagement Platform, virtual wards and improved use of our comprehensive data, including the potential use of Artificial Intelligence to support cutting-edge research.

I’m very grateful to the whole IM&T team for all of their hard work.

Our CQC inspection

Thank you to everyone who has hosted and been involved in this week’s Care Quality Commission inspection. While these visits can be quite daunting, I know how hard everyone works to do our best for patients and colleagues. A further inspection to look at how well-led our organisation is will take place towards the end of July.

NHS Learning Disability Fun Day

Last week was Learning Disability Awareness Week which MENCAP wanted to use as an opportunity to show the world the incredible things that people with learning disabilities achieve, smash misconceptions about what people can do and shine a light on the stigma many still face every day.

Various events were held in the trust culminating in a ‘Learning Disability Fun Day’ outside of Peacock Hall which showcased the many initiatives and examples of how we work collaboratively to support our patients with learning disabilities.

Having a learning disability is different for every person who has one and affects somebody for their whole life. People tend to take longer to learn and may need extra support to develop new skills, understand information and interact with other people.

Much work is underway to give staff the skills and knowledge to support them to identify when a patient has a learning disability, what reasonable adjustments are, how to implement these and ensure they are documented.

Our learning disability liaison team are available to scaffold and support all clinical teams in planning admissions, supporting inpatient episodes and planning appropriate discharges.

It is really important we build on what we do well, learn from every experience and continue to share that across the organisation.

Awards hat trick for estates colleagues

Great news for our estates team and the clinical team behind the Day Treatment Centre, who won three prestigious awards and were highly commended in a fourth category at the recent Constructing Excellence in the North East Awards.

The recognition is for their work on our bespoke £24million day treatment centre, which was singled out for integration and collaborative working, value and client of the year, as well as building project of the year.

It was a really impressive achievement for the team, and our construction partners, to complete the centre in less than 10 months and it’s fitting their dedication and hard work has been recognised by these sought-after industry awards.

We’re really proud of what’s been achieved and the fantastic feedback from both clinical teams and patients who attend for treatment is testimony to how valued and important the facility is. Huge congratulations to everyone involved.

Commercial enterprise in Newcastle Hospitals

Our commercial enterprise team was set up three years ago, at the height of the pandemic, to work on maximising commercial opportunities, new initiatives and income streams for Newcastle Hospitals.

The team has a range of experience gained from private sector and NHS organisations and are there to offer support for colleagues who need a sounding board for a potential commercial idea, business planning expertise or communications and marketing support for a commercial project.

In the last three years, the team’s portfolio has included initiatives in diagnostics, clinical innovation, research, education, training and pharmacy production. Two of their biggest projects so far have been to support our ‘spin out’ labs – Novopath and the North East Innovation Lab – in commercialising their diagnostic services, helping them to grow, achieve and maintain financial sustainability and explore new markets.

Any income the team helps bring into the organisation is reinvested and to date their work has contributed £7million towards wider services here at Newcastle Hospitals.

Happy third anniversary to the team!

Food and Drink strategy

This week we launched the trust’s food and drink strategy for 2022 to 2027 which outlines our ambitions in delivering high quality nutrition and hydration care, recognising the importance of offering healthy, balanced food and drink choices for our patients, visitors, carers, volunteers and staff. You can find out more here.

Other news

  • Have your say – Patients, staff, visitors and carers are being asked to have their say about how Newcastle Hospitals gathers and uses patient feedback to improve services and care. The review is taking place to help health staff understand what is working well and where improvements can be made. You can take part in the survey here.
  • Community Diagnostic Centre – This month, in partnership with Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, we signed a long-term lease with Metrocentre for the new Community Diagnostic Centre (CDC). This is an important step in providing improved access to screening and diagnostic services outside of a hospital setting for the people of Gateshead and Newcastle. You can read more here.
  • Leading in research – Congratulations to Dr Chris Lamb, an honorary gastroenterologist at the trust and clinical senior lecturer and honorary consultant in gastroenterology in immunity and inflammation at Newcastle University, who was awarded the 2023 Sir Francis Avery Jones Medal from the British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG) for his work in translational gastroenterology research.
  • Nursing Times Awards – Fantastic news that we have five finalists in the Nursing Times Awards which were announced yesterday.
    They are:

    • Nurse leader of the Year – Caroline Ralph
    • Ingrid Fuchs Cancer Nursing Award – 7-day systemic anti-cancer therapies service
    • Patient safety improvement – A collaborative model of meningococcal vaccination response monitoring for patients receiving complement inhibition
    • Public health nursing – Operation encompass police cause for concern triage pilot
    • Technology and data in nursing – Digital pre-assessment for cancer patients

    Congratulations to everyone involved and good luck in the finals which will be held in October.

And finally…

Our judges have, once again, had a difficult time in selecting the finalists for our Celebrating Excellence Awards. The standard and quality of entries has been very high and really showcases the good work going on the across the trust. I’ll be announcing our finalists in a special briefing next week.