Our international impact

I’m writing my blog with a very different view this week, as I travel to Oman to take part in the 43rd World Hospital Congress. This is a unique global forum that brings together leaders of hospital and healthcare organisations from around the world to discuss key drivers of national and international policy and solutions in healthcare management and service delivery.

I’ve been invited by the NHS Confederation to join a delegation from the UK to highlight the contribution that the health service makes to economic growth and prosperity in the local and national UK economy.

It’s a great privilege to be able to showcase Newcastle Hospitals to such an internationally renowned audience and I’m very proud to be representing the Trust and wider NHS.

While our culture is one of continuous improvement for our patients, many people will be surprised to know the scale and extent of our international reputation and clinical work.

Last year, the US publication ‘Newsweek’ judged us to be in the best 100 hospitals globally, and this should encourage us to think about the position of our services on a global stage, whilst at the same time ensuring that we continue to provide world class care to our local population.

Our new vision, ‘achieving local excellence with global reach through compassionate and innovative healthcare, education and research’ sums up our approach very well.

Earlier this year, I looked into some examples of our international work and I was delighted by the breadth and depth of research, development, training and support that is already taking place across the Trust.

We have almost 90 examples of people and teams who are often using their own resources, annual leave and fundraising to provide Newcastle expertise across every continent. It’s inspiring to see.

We’ve put together a world map which includes the projects that we know about but if you are involved in any other international work, please let us know by emailing [email protected]

Dr David Nylander and Dr Chris Moutford and colleagues in Sierra Leone

I wanted to highlight a couple of examples of our outstanding work. In gastroenterology & hepatology,

Dr David Nylander has led some ground-breaking work in Sierra Leone’s capital city, Freetown, supporting the development of the first endoscopy service in the country. He has travelled there four times to develop the service, using his annual leave, and supported others from the Trust and wider region to get involved as well. Alongside that, the data has been presented to a number of scientific meetings to ensure a wider reach of their work.

Peter Carey, Steve O’Brien and Simon Bailey in our haematology services have also developed an innovative way to support paediatric services in Malawi. As well as visiting the hospital directly, they review bone marrow and blood films remotely by camera and microscope through the internet – all in their spare time and their work featured in a BBC news programme here.

Dr Tina Biss and Mr Paul Murphy with the team from the Hemophilia Treatment Centre in Aluva

Our haemophilia services have also twinned with a centre in India to provide education and support under the auspices of the World Haemophilia Association. While there are far too many examples to mention individually, I do know the impact you’re making in the world, as well as here in Newcastle. However you contribute internationally, thank you. It’s one more important part of what makes Newcastle Hospitals such a unique and special organisation.


Delivering our Paperlite program has taken a huge effort over many months. I popped in to say a heartfelt thank you to our IT team who have worked so hard to make it happen.

Inside the organisation, our move to a fully electronic record through our paperlite programme

has been a remarkable achievement and made possible due a huge number of people – clinical, non-clinical and technical – working together to exceed all our expectations.

I was quite anxious on change-over day (Sunday 27 October), and was kept closely up-dated by the team in the command centre. I know that many of you on shift that day were also worried so it’s great to hear that everything went almost exactly as planned. Issues were identified and resolved quickly and everyone running operational services that day did their bit. Thank you to everyone involved.

I recognise this is a huge change for us and there is more work to do as the roll-out continues. Please continue to ask for help if you need it – our floorwalkers in their purple polo shirts are very happy to support – and we are already seeing the benefits. I understand that voice recognition technology in cardiology meant that clinic letters for one particularly busy clinic were prepared and finalised the same afternoon for the first time. We have examples like that all across the trust – making services safer, more efficient and better for patients.


There’s lots’ going on in November! Our Flourish theme for the month is #MyPersonalHealth and we’re covering a range of topics relating to personal health including sexual health, and breast, prostate and testicular cancer awareness. Teams will also be on hand to offer advice and support through a number of personal health and staff wellbeing stands, the first of which was held at the Molineux Centre this week. You’ll find factsheets and more information on our website

Staff survey

It’s also the time of year for our staff survey – the one chance in the year where everyone who works here is able to share their views in confidence about what it’s like to be a member of the team. Please take the time to fill in your form as soon as possible. You can see my message to staff about why I think it’s important here.


We have started seeing flu cases in hospital – some of them severe – so if you haven’t had your flu jab already please do so. It really is the best way to protect yourself, your family and colleagues from this serious illness and we are expecting a bad flu season this year. To date, 7,784 staff (including 5,723 frontline staff) have been vaccinated – over 1,000 more than this time last year – but we still have some way to go to hit our 80% target. Please do your bit and make time to have your jab now.

Living our values

I’d looking forward to seeing many of you on Tuesday (12 November) at our next Flourish event. I’d very much like you to come along to help us think about our Flourish approach so far and how we can develop it in line with our new values.

I’ll be sharing my thoughts about our Flourish programme and how we create an environment where people can bring the very best of themselves to work. We’ll also be hearing from staff about work they are doing to support their teams to flourish and to live our values everyday.

There are a small number of places left, so do come along if you can. The event will take place at the Great North Museum from 2pm – 4pm (refreshments from 1.30pm). If you would like to attend please email [email protected]

Leadership congress

Our next Leadership Congress ‘Leadership for Improvement’ will also be held at the Great North Museum on Wednesday 27 November from 4-6.30pm. We are delighted to be joined by Susan Hannah, Senior Director for Europe Region and Strategic Partners – at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), who will be giving an international perspective on quality improvement. You can learn more about the IHI here.

Our Leadership Congress is for leaders and aspiring leaders at all levels in the Trust to consider the big issues that face us today. To attend please email [email protected]

Annual Nursing, Midwifery & AHP Conference – World of Opportunities: Together Towards Tomorrow
Our Executive Chief Nurse, Maurya Cushlow has written a blog about this year’s annual conference which you can read here.

Project menopause

You’re welcome to join us at our second event where we will be joined by Jackie Rees – nurse consultant – continence care, Tracy Ord – nurse consultant – urogynaecology and Julie Ellis advanced clinical specialist physiotherapist to talk about continence and pelvic health:

  • Tuesday 26 November 2019: 5pm – 7pm Function Rooms 137/138, Freeman Hospital
  • Monday 2 December 2019: 5pm – 7pm Piano Room, RVI

Antibiotic Awareness Month

Our antimicrobial team are raising awareness of responsible antibiotic use and the role everyone has in preventing antibiotic resistance during November to coincide with World Antibiotic Awareness Week (18 – 24 November). There are banner boards highlighting the problems across the Trust as well as information on social media.

Antibiotic resistance is a present and growing problem. The World Health Organisation warns that by 2050, 10 million people a year worldwide will die of infections that cannot be treated due to antibiotic resistance and we have treated patients with these multi-drug resistant bacteria here in Newcastle.

The biggest driver of resistance is antibiotic overuse and the NHS is making tackling antimicrobial resistance a top priority. Our antimicrobial team want to promote appropriate antibiotic use with these key messages:

  • Withhold antibiotics if there is no clear bacterial infection or viral infection suspected;
  • Make sure that relevant cultures are sent; and
  • That all antibiotics prescribed to inpatients are reviewed within 72hrs to modify or stop antibiotics depending on culture results and patient progression.

Please play your part in tackling this growing problem.

Awards and achievements

Congratulations to our staff on the following awards and achievements:

  • The Institute of Transplantation received a Living North ‘Lifetime Achievement’ Award in recognition of its work to provide the very best outcomes through ‘leadership, boldness and a willingness to change established practice for optimum results’
  • We had three finalists in the Nursing Times Awards – the palliative care and end of life team (patient safety improvement), nurse consultant Fania Pagnamenta (innovation in chronic wound management) and senior nurse specialists Lesley Bainbridge, Angela Cobb, Jackie Rees and Allison Sykes (continence promotion and care).
  • This week was the HSJ Awards – the most fiercely contested health service awards which attract hundreds of entries from the NHS and its partners every year – and I was delighted we were overall winners in two categories and finalists in three others.
    Trust Chairman, Professor Sir John Burn and our HSJ Award winners

    The first award for ‘reservist support’ was in recognition of the support we give to the UK’s armed forces community, reservists and cadets including providing additional annual leave to attend annual camp and setting up a staff network to give them a voice in the organisation.

    The Great North Children’s Hospital were also winners of the ‘Acute or specialist service redesign initiative – North/Midlands/East’ for their BREATHE – Beating Regional Asthma Through Health Education – initiative which was set up to reduce the risks of death and hospital admissions for young people with asthma.

    The team used online resources for both healthcare professionals, families, young people and schools, nurse-led “one stop shop” clinics, and new pathways for emergency admission – backed up by an asthma discharge bundle and follow-up phone calls – leading to a 29% reduction in paediatric emergency asthma admissions and improved asthma control.

    Congratulations to our winners and all our finalists. Further details about both projects can be found here 

And finally

Next month, I’ll be chatting with Roy Lilley – a health policy analyst, writer, broadcaster and commentator on the NHS – about my career and life as a CEO!

My HealthChat is at the RVI on Tuesday 10 December from 5pm to 7.30pm and is free to Trust staff.

To book your place here click here  – it should be an interesting evening!