Our performance

As the nights begin to draw in, our flu campaign starts and staff surveys drop into inboxes across the Trust – there can be no denying that autumn is upon us.

Inevitably, minds are turning to winter and huge efforts are being put into our preparations for the pressure that will bring. One of the things that makes Newcastle so special is our ability to provide the best services all year round and it’s a credit to every member of the team that we rise to the seasonal challenges each year.

There’s no denying that across the NHS it’s getting harder to meet the many demands upon us. So far this year, despite our best efforts, we are struggling to achieve the national standards – especially in cancer services and the referral to treatment targets.

On a national level, I’m working hard with colleagues to influence the emerging potential standards which will support the NHS Long Term Plan. There is an increasing appreciation that the current standards aren’t appropriate for the future and alternatives are currently being tested.

However, for now, at the forefront of my mind are the patients on our waiting lists who are sometimes waiting too long for their treatment and are anxious, concerned and sometimes in pain. It’s important that we think clearly and challenge ourselves so that we can deliver the best response.

The four-hour standard for A and E departments was met in August, but missed in September. I know there is pressure across the region and our position as the major trauma centre makes it vitally important that we continue to perform strongly.

Across our cancer pathways we are currently only meeting one of the eight performance standards despite everyone’s best efforts. We are also not achieving our referral to treatment and diagnostics standards and these continue to be a significant challenge.

Our performance with healthcare acquired infections is excellent – we have had no MRSA bacteraemia cases attributed to the Trust for over a year which is a significant achievement.

So what do we need to do?

One thing that every one of us can do is to keep ourselves well and importantly to protect ourselves from flu by getting a flu jab. This gives us the best chance of avoiding this serious illness impacting upon attendance at work and demand for services. That sounds simple, but getting the basics right has never been more important.

I’m pleased to be able to report that our commissioners are supporting us with our challenging cancer demand. They have provided funding for pathway managers which will be a great support to teams. I know that in each directorate there are great examples of problem solving and redesign that really help to tackle emerging issues – making services more efficient and delivering better patient experience.

I’ve been hearing about the ‘One Stop Pathway’ that the prostate team have developed in response to the huge increase in demand following national publicity about prostate cancer. Its responses like this, which are clinically led and effective, that will keep us at the forefront of healthcare.

This week clinical directors and directorate managers came together to focus on our performance at the Trust Management Group. Every one of them – and every member of the Board and senior team – is committed to delivering the highest standards of care and access. We all have an important role to play in making sure that every service is able to help us reach the high standards we set ourselves.

I have no doubt that this will be a challenging autumn and winter, but I am equally sure that by pulling together and focussing on our patients, we will recover as many of these performance standards as soon as possible and maintain our position as one of the best places in the UK to receive care.

Paperlite countdown

It’s now 16 days until we ‘go live’ with this game-changing development on Sunday 27 October. You can be assured that preparations are being undertaken with military precision and attention. To help you prepare, the paperlite team are continuing their weekly ‘drop-in’ sessions. Handbooks, checklists and more resources are available to make sure you feel as ready as possible and our paperlite website is being updated daily.

It’s great to see our IT trainers and champions out and about wearing their purple polo shirts. Our champions will provide staff with ‘at the elbow’ support during and after ‘go live’, and there will be further help from experienced floorwalkers –as well as our IT colleagues.

The key message is please don’t worry – change is coming but if you get stuck or aren’t sure what to do, plenty of help will be at hand.


Closing the Gap – Our BAME conference – Over 300 staff attended our first BAME staff conference and I’ve heard excellent feedback about this inspirational, inspiring and thought-provoking event. The programme was impressive with a full-day of local and national speakers drawing from their personal experiences within and outside of the workplace, and they didn’t shy away from challenging discussions about how we can increase our BAME representation across the Trust, particularly in relation to senior leadership.

I am committed to ‘closing the gap’ here at Newcastle Hospitals. Yvonne Coghill, Director – WRES Implementation in NHS England, shared the importance of the NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard in demonstrating that inequality is real and it impacts on people’s lives.

Our ‘People’ are at the very heart of our strategic framework, supported by Flourish our cornerstone programme. ‘We are Inclusive’ is one of our core values and our strategy highlights that we will support our diverse staff to work in an engaging environment, which is fair and respectful. You can watch our new video about our trust values here

Well done to everyone that contributed and made it a day to remember; a special mention in particular to our BAME choir who closed this very memorable and important day. I hope this has inspired colleagues across the Trust to become involved in our BAME and other staff networks, and support us in delivering change.

Nursing conference – Another first coming up is our Joint Nursing, Midwifery & Allied Health Professional Conference which takes place on 23 October. The programme promises a great day and has a strong focus on multi-professional collaboration and how this improves patient care and experience.

I’m looking forward to this year’s key note speech by the internationally renowned Professor Brian Dolan who will share his thoughts on his End PJ Paralysis & last 1,000 days work. I’m also very pleased to be presenting this year’s NMAHP Achievement & Clinical Leaders Awards.

As places are limited, the conference planning team has asked that anyone who has been allocated a place, but cannot now attend, to contact their matron / clinical lead as soon as possible in order for their place to re-allocated within their directorate.

Living Our Values – I’d like to invite you to join me for our next Flourish Event ‘Living our Values’ which will now take place on Tuesday 12 November. I’d very much like people 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.

We’ll be hearing from staff about work they are doing to help people flourish, and I’d also like us to think about our approach to staff development, and how we can ensure that our values – and our Flourish approach – are at the centre of how we support staff to develop and grow in their careers.

This is another opportunity to be able to influence this important ‘cornerstone’ programme, and I do hope that each team in the Trust will be represented. 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].

Dates for your diaries – We are also planning our next leadership congress, aimed at leaders and aspiring leaders, on Wednesday 27 November in the Great North Museum. We’ll be focusing on our approach to Quality and Safety. Please save the date in your diaries.

Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, will be visiting the Trust on Tuesday 22 October. He will be holding an open lecture for staff on ‘The NHS and future challenges’, followed by a question and answer session in the Sir James Spence Lecture Theatre between 10.45am and 11.45am. Everyone is welcome to come along and there is no need to register. If you do have any queries please contact [email protected]

Staff survey – Thank you to everyone who has filled in their staff survey so far. It’s much appreciated! If you’ve not found the time yet – please do so. Your feedback is crucial in making further improvements, both in and outside of work.

Flu jabs – We have had a magnificent response to our flu campaign. Thank you to everyone who has made the time to get #protected. Flu clinics will continue and all of the contact information and opening times are available on the internet.

Awards and recognition

Congratulations to all the teams below who have been recognised for the difference they are making to patients and staff:

  • Our mortuary team were winners of the Darcy’s Dream Charity ‘Thank You Award’ after being nominated by the parents of a little girl they cared for and the wonderful support they provided.
  • Well done to Hazel Curphey and Luke Stevens (physios working across neurosciences and stroke) who have just returned from a week in Gaza where they spent time as a volunteers training local physios in neurorehabilitation. They spent time across four different hospitals treating a variety of patients with the local staff. Hazel described it as an amazing experience and said ‘seeing what physios can achieve with no equipment or facilities and their motivation to learn was inspiring and made her really appreciate the NHS!’
  • The Institute of Transplantation – and all of the fantastic teams working there – have been shortlisted for a Living North Award. The IOT has been nominated in the ‘Outstanding contribution to the North East’ category which recognises an organisation / or person who has made a dramatic and lasting improvement to our lives and community. You can vote for your favourite to win on the Living North website and the closing date is next Friday (18 October).
  • Community nutrition worker Moriam Ahmed has been shortlisted for a National Health and Care BAME Award which celebrates the work of Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff in UK health and care services.

We have also been shortlisted in a number of categories in this year’s Bright Ideas in Health Awards which recognise the achievements of health innovators across academia, NHS and industry within the North East and North Cumbria. The full list is below:

  • Demonstrating an Impact upon Quality Improvement (two shortlisted) – Implementation of Direct Carbapenemase Producing Enterobacteriaceae PCR screening for Peri-Operative ICCU patients and The KidzMed Project – Teaching Children to Swallow Tablet Medication
  • Development of an Innovative Device or Technology – Improvements in Mandibular Reconstruction
  • Early Diagnosis and Precision Medicine Award – Improvements in Breast Imaging
  • Outstanding Research Collaboration with the NHS – Evaluation of a Point of Care Test for Respiratory Syncytial Virus in Infants and Young Children (in partnership with Newcastle University and South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust)
  • Innovation in Education Category – Paediatric Sepsis Podcasts
  • Innovation Champion (two shortlisted) – The Sensational Thinking Project and Transition from Paediatric to Adult Care – A Co-produced Patient Experience Project