Winter is coming

Over the last couple of weeks, it’s felt that the evenings are staring to draw in and the wind has picked up that familiar bite. Winter is most definitely approaching. So I wanted to take a moment this to focus on one of the areas that get the most attention at this time of year – our Emergency Department.

It was great to see first-hand the fantastic work of the emergency department on my visit earlier in the year.

The ED Team continues to achieve hugely encouraging performance – one of the best in the UK, and

they do this whilst providing the highest quality care. November’s mean performance remains high at 95.8 (range 91.1 to 97.9) in spite of high patient attendances.

But of course the 4-hour target doesn’t give the whole picture. For that we need to hear from the many patients who unexpectedly find themselves in our care. Here are the comments of just one of them:
“I felt I had to drop you a personal note to convey my thanks for the treatment I received. I was attended to within 1.5 hours from start to finish having had an ECG, bloods were also taken, and results received within the time I was there. I cannot speak highly enough of your team from the moment I arrived, the person on the desk, to the staff who attended to me. Your team were outstanding. Thank you!”.

Sometimes, when things are very hectic – as they no doubt will be for the next few months – it can be hard to find the time to reflect on a job well done and pat each other on the back. But every single day we are providing the very best care across our emergency pathways in the adult and paediatric ED teams, including the GP in ED project. Making this successful also relies on the fantastic specialty response and trust wide support given to emergency care which is so vital to both flow and quality. Our low rates of medical boarders and high discharge rates indicate excellent collaborative work between all the acute specialties as well as our community teams. It’s a whole trust response that makes us successful and we should be very proud. Fabulous work everyone!

Newcastle and the North East – a great place to live, work and research

Earlier this month, the Government approved a £600m devolution agreement for our Local Authorities across the North of Tyne. Members from all three constituent councils have made a commitment to build a more dynamic and inclusive local economy.

As one of the largest and most significant employers in North of Tyne, we make a huge contribution to our local economy and it is essential that we are able to play our part in the economic success of the region, both in Newcastle, the North of Tyne area and the wider North East. I am committed to making sure that we play our part economically and I was delighted to open a conference this week looking at how the economic impact of health spending and health research can play in the economic outlook of the North. Carried out by the National Health Science Alliance (NHSA) the report ‘Health for Wealth, Building a Healthier Northern Powerhouse for UK Productivity’ sets out the impact that increased investment in health in the North could play. Find the report here:

On Wednesday morning this week, I joined senior leaders from Newcastle Council and other partners in the city to take a careful look at how we spend our combined ‘Newcastle Pound’, and importantly, to think about how we can get even better value for our money by working in a more integrated way together. Increasingly, as we focus on prevention in the long term plan, we will need to challenge each other to work differently and break down some of the traditional roles to support our community better. This is especially true for those who have complex long term conditions or who are more frail. We have the opportunity to make Newcastle a world class city for ageing – both in relation to research and service delivery, and I am optimistic about the potential for really exciting work in this space.

Trust Chairman, Professor Sir John Burn speaking at the Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre Impact Showcase

Also on Wednesday, both Sir John and I took part in the Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre Impact Showcase. This presented our world class local research which has a national and international reach and impact, and most importantly highlighted how the research in ageing syndromes, dementia, liver disease, musculoskeletal disease, neuromuscular disease, skin and oral disease from across the University and Trust Partnership is improving patients’ lives. It was inspirational to hear about this work and was a fantastic opportunity to reflect on the research talent that we have here in the Trust and the close collaboration we have between the Trust and the University. Sir John’s presentation focussed on ‘making the best better’ which very much sums up my hopes for our research future.

Final chance to have your say!

I’d like to give you one final encouragement to fill in your staff survey before the closing date on Friday 30 November. So far an amazing 43% of you have taken the time to tell me what you think of working here in Newcastle, and I’m very grateful to everyone who has taken the time. It’s a very important way to help us grow and improve. So I’d encourage you all to find a few minutes this week to complete your survey if you haven’t already done so.


Our flu campaign also continue. It is so important that we all take personal responsibility for protecting ourselves and our patients and families from this serious illness.

This week we have launched our ‘get a jab, give a jab’ campaign which will see us donating tetanus jabs to developing countries – so we can spread the protection even further. Please make an appointment to get protected as soon as possible.

Roll out of eObs

Great to see the successful roll out of the Trust developed electronic observations (eObs), Here on Ward 15 staff were particularly happy with how easy it was to use.

I was thrilled to hear about the success of the roll out of electronic observations at the RVI last week.

What a huge achievement to have undertaken 3200 patient e-observations in the first 24 hours! Here’s an interesting fact – an average set of observations takes 3 and a half minutes to do, and the average time to undertake eObs is 2 mins 40 seconds. That’s a saving already of 35 hours of nursing time every day. Most importantly this is a huge step forward in our paperlite programme and also an important patient safety tool as the digital alerts and links to the NEWS2 scores will empower staff to act on concerns.

Next week will be the turn of the Freeman Hospital as 29 wards will go live on Tuesday 27 November. Well done to every member of the implementation team for this achievement.

Our EU Colleagues

We have been really encouraged by the positive correspondence from our EU staff following our announcement last month about supporting them by offering to reimburse the £65 application fee for staff to seek settled status in the UK. These highly valued members of staff are an essential part of our workforce and we will do everything we can to support you to stay with us and continue to provide great patient care.

Applications to the settlement scheme will open early for health and social care staff – from Thursday 29 November and we will be making direct contact with relevant colleagues in coming days with further information. We have also set up a dedicated email address to make it as easy as possible for staff to raise any questions with us. Please contact: [email protected]

Radiology success

While many of us are preparing for our upcoming ‘Well led’ CQC visit, the radiology team had an early opportunity to prepare last week as they were revisited to check their compliance with the IR(ME)R standards. I know how much hard work had gone into preparing for this visit and I was delighted to hear that the team passed with flying colours following a truly stellar effort from the whole team, CGARD and medical physics.

Flourish and flourish at Christmas

You will all know that I am passionate about liberating the potential of each of us at work. Last week we were visited by the ‘Better Health at Work’ assessors and I’d like to thank everyone who took part in the visit and who shared their experiences.

As you know, our next flourish meeting will take place on Thursday 13 December where we will be focusing on the refreshing our values and our behaviours in the organisation. Please come along and make a contribution.

I’ve heard from several people that the donations for our Christmas campaign are coming in thick and fast. If you’re out shopping over the weekend, why not pop a couple of extra items in your trolley to donate – and let’s make someone’s Christmas a little bit more special. You can find a list of items needed by the food bank here: http://nuth-intranet/CMS/viewarticle.aspx?articleid=3526


We have had some very important visitors this month including the GMC (as part of a quality assurance visit), Andrew Goddard, President of the Royal College of Physicians and Ian Dalton, Chief Executive of NHS Improvement. It is always a pleasure to hear from visitors about the warm welcome they receive in Newcastle and the positive impression they take away about our services and our people. I know that these visits often take a huge amount of preparation and attention so another enormous thank you to everyone involved for all of your hard work.


SMART testing is a new initiative led by microbiology to help clinicians make the best use of laboratory resources with an emphasis on safe, high quality patient care.

We are calling on all our colleagues to help us to reduce laboratory testing where it is safe to do so. Minimising unnecessary testing will, save resources, free up more time and minimise delays for urgent tests. This will improve the quality of laboratory testing and promote high quality patient care. The aim of SMART testing is to ensure that the right tests are carried out at the right time.

Got a SMART idea? Email suggestions to: [email protected]

Your views

I really value the time staff are taking to meet me and share their views – and if this briefing has sparked off any ideas for you then I would love to hear them.

Dame Jackie Daniel
Chief Executive