Northern Pride

This weekend is an important one in the North East calendar as the Northern Pride Festival takes place on the Town Moor and Exhibition Park.

As a Trust we are wholeheartedly supporting the festival. I’m proud to say that for the first time we will have a Newcastle Hospitals banner in the Stonewall Remembrance March thanks to our LGBT+ network.

We are also hosting a Pride NHS Breakfast at the RVI Piano room to make sure our NHS marchers from across the area are well fed before they set off.

I hope that lots of you will join the parade. I’m really sorry I can’t be there with you this year as I’m taking some annual leave, but I will be following on social media and look forward to seeing the rainbow flags and banners there – and I will be with you in spirit.

This year marks 50 years since the stonewall riots in New York. The anger about the way gay people were being treated by the police in 1969 triggered a week of protests and this became an important pivot in the history of LGBT+ rights and equality, helping to spark the fight for gay rights around the world.

The UK is now one of the best countries in the world for gay equality and I have seen fantastic progress in public attitudes over the last 20 years. But there is still more to do.

Reports still highlight that LGBT people experience discrimination in healthcare settings and sadly one in seven reported avoiding healthcare for fear of discrimination from staff. (LGBT Health in Britain Report 2018, Stonewall). I was also shocked to read that 41% of non-binary people said that they had harmed themselves in the last year and that one in four LGBT people said they had witnessed negative remarks by healthcare staff.

We all have an important role to play in making sure that everyone feels welcome in our organisation, and in our services. Events like Northern Pride are important because of the profile that they bring to these issues – but the care we give, and the approach we take towards our fellow citizens as we come into contact with them at work and in society, is just as important if we are to continue the drive towards equality.

Equality is a fundamental part of our #Flourish approach, and I’m grateful for the hard work that members of all our staff networks put in throughout the year to encourage understanding and challenge stigma wherever it exists.

From Monday, we’re also launching the NHS Rainbow badges, which are available from main receptions. The badge is a reminder that you can talk to our staff about who you are, be open about your identity and how you feel. Everybody wearing a badge will have made a pledge to support inclusion so if you do collect one, why not take a photo and share it with me on Twitter?  You can find out more about the project on the Intranet.


Great to see Cris has challenged himself to run the Great North 5k and that he is already seeing results in his fitness levels – good luck Cris!

It’s great to see staff signing up for the Great North 5k on Saturday 7 September, like Cris Gatilogo, an electronics and medical electronics engineering technician at the RVI.

Cris started running again two months ago and has already noticed a difference in his fitness levels.

“I enjoyed track and field as a youngster at school and recently decided it was time to get fit again after regularly getting out of breath. I think the 5k will be a great way for
me to continue building my fitness and challenge myself,” he said.

Over 70 people have already signed up for the event and if you’ve never ran – or walked – longer distances, this is a great way to improve your fitness. Tickets are available through the Benefits Everyone website at the subsidised price of £10 (instead of the usual price of £22).

Continuing on the running theme, as you’ll be aware I’m taking part in the Great North Run this year and will be raising funds for our very own Great North Children’s Hospital. Training is going well – although I’m sure I could squeeze a few more practice runs in – and you can find my just giving page.

While we visually promote our ethos of #Flourish through a distinct brand and monthly themes, including #WorkPerks in July, there are various programmes of work currently being explored to support staff to liberate their full potential including our approach to flexible working.

We are also looking at ways to improve the journey for new staff joining the Trust and have created a ‘First Day Kit’ which provides them with everything they need to know to have the best first day at Newcastle Hospitals and beyond.

From this week, the kit is being sent to all new starters in the form of a welcome email and includes information about the different sites hoppers and Flourish, along with a comprehensive A-Z directory.

Please take some time to have a look at the kit as I am sure it will still be useful to you.

Out and about

Last week, I had the opportunity to look around the Newcastle Centre for Life with our Chairman and their Chief Executive Officer Linda Conlon.

Our executive team recently met with the executive team from Newcastle Gateshead CCG to look at how we can continue to build on our integrated working. I know that most of us haven’t yet had our summer holidays yet but it’s never too early to start preparing for winter. It’s so important we have these early discussions now in order to have a whole system approach.

Last week, I had the opportunity to look around the Newcastle Centre for Life with our Chairman and their Chief Executive Officer Linda Conlon.

The tour included a visit to the Life’s education centre and it was fascinating to see how many workshops are there and how they focus on the different age groups of children which also, where appropriate, fit in with the national curriculum. I’m sure with the impending school holidays coming up the Life Centre will be a hive
of activity.

One of our Project Choice graduates Lauryn Slater and her mentor Sue Armstrong who works in the linen room at the Freeman Hospital

I also had the privilege of opening and presenting certificates at the Project Choice graduation. If you’re not aware of Project Choice, this started out ten years ago as a small work experience programme for young adults with learning difficulties and disabilities or autism.

Over the last decade it’s grown from strength to strength and has been so successful with the students and schools in our community, we’ve now expanded the project by introducing a supported internship scheme.



As a Trust, we have hosted over 500 work placements in the last seven years and supported hundreds of students to become ready to enter paid employment so it was lovely to meet up with our latest graduates and their families and mentors who so passionately support them.

Awards, achievements and events

Nursing Times Awards – I’m delighted to share the news that we’ve been shortlisted in three categories of the Awards. Senior nurses from the Trust and Newcastle/Gateshead CCG are finalists in ‘Continence Promotion and Care’ for their UTI collaborative work on five wards in older people’s medicine to understand the causes, avoidance and earlier recognition of urinary tract infections.

The palliative and end of life care team are shortlisted in ‘Patient Safety Improvement’ for developing a discharge pathway comprising of three routes – depending on the stage of a patient’s illness – with corresponding checklists which aspire to influence the safety and quality of discharges.

Fania Pagnamenta, Nurse Consultant – Tissue Viability, is a finalist in ‘Innovation in Chronic Wound Management’ for her work with staff in developing the skills required for them to apply compression bandages, improve care and maximise wound healing to patients with leg ulcers, who are admitted to hospital for unrelated conditions.

It’s just over four weeks to go to the World Transplant Games where participants from 60 countries across the world will descend upon Newcastle/Gateshead. I’m delighted that Newcastle Hospitals is a partner of the Games, which promote the benefits of transplantation, as well as raising awareness of organ donation, and I wish all the athletes good luck.

While we’re committed to ensuring that patients get high quality, safe, care now, we recognise that it’s equally important for us to conduct and apply research to build better ways of working into our services for the future.The Newcastle Joint Research Office – a partnership between our Trust and Newcastle University – has produced this short video to explain how we embed research at Newcastle Hospitals which is worth viewing…