Reshaping elective care

Following on from my last blog about the fantastic work in our Day Treatment Centre, I promised that I would turn my attention to the investments we’re making in our wider surgical services. Each year, around 120,000 people have an elective procedure with us, with just over half of those procedures taking place in a theatre. Our patients travel from across the city, wider region and beyond to access our expert care, and it goes without saying that the skill and expertise of our surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses and wider surgical teams, ably supported by staff from across the organisation, continues to be among the best in the world.

We have 75 theatres across the trust. They, as well as the staff who work in them, are a precious resource. We currently have around 36,000 people waiting for an elective procedure and many more will present to us in an emergency, so making the very best use of every theatre list we have has never been more important. That’s why we have embarked on an ambitious programme of work to introduce a new Care Co-ordination System – CCS – which will support us in optimising our theatre capacity. It’s part of an NHS-wide effort to better use data to reshape health and care by giving clinicians and hospital staff the tools they need to treat patients faster.

Currently, we use a whole range of information systems to book and schedule surgery – including Medirota to tell us when surgeons are available, Surginet to manage the theatres, Cerner to manage patient waiting lists and the pre-assessment process to ensure clinical suitability for surgery. This results in a great deal of information which is hard to see together in one place and is difficult to use intelligently.

CCS is designed to provide a single consistent waiting list that is visible to everyone – clinicians, schedulers, theatre teams, operational managers, and administration staff. It enables consultants, schedulers, pre-assessment and data quality teams to have clean, validated information, created from a shared ‘source of truth’ based on live data and synced with the electronic patient record. It is an operational tool that pulls all of this information into one place and provides a pathway view for each individual patient. This means that everyone looking to schedule or support patients will be able to:

  • See the same information,
  • Proactively identify and fill available theatre capacity more easily,
  • Avoid miscommunication, and
  • Make much better use of our limited resources.

Jo McCallum is the delivery lead for this development and she explained the benefits for patients. She said: “This new system will make life much easier for everyone involved in surgery especially for patients. It will be clearer and more straightforward to record and see individual needs and act accordingly. For example, if I’m someone who needs an operation, I will have a pre assessment appointment where they may advise that I can be treated in the day treatment centre. If I have diabetes, the system will flag that I need to be seen early in the day. Whilst this information is currently captured on Cerner, it does not flow to clinicians or schedulers who need this to inform the booking process. The new system will routinely display booking instructions to ensure the patient is scheduled in the right order, at the right time and on the right list.

“The key to a productive theatre is effective forward planning. This means that for routine procedures, we can give patients more notice and ensure they are ready for their surgery.

“We are working with our clinicians to understand how we can maximise the benefits for them. If we don’t make it easy and add value, this won’t be successful. I’m hopeful that we can significantly reduce the admin burden for clinical staff as well as giving much better visibility and control of their theatre lists to support decision making.

“It could also be life-changing for our admin staff who do such a crucial job in supporting patients. There is huge potential to minimise duplication and rework, removing some of the frustration that I know they feel.”

John Crossman, consultant neurosurgeon is the clinical director for the project, added: “There has never been a more important time to ensure our elective pathway is as efficient as possible – for both patients and staff. It is hoped that the Care Coordination Solution will make it easier for colleagues to access, share and update real time clinical data. This will in turn help us make more informed decisions, as well as make best use of theatre capacity and improve patient care. I look forward to seeing how the pilot unfolds over the coming months.”

The system will be piloted in our urology services over the coming months, and I look forward to hearing their progress. In the meantime, I want to say thank you to everyone working to support our surgical patients, in theatres, on wards and in our support services. Your hard work and dedication are very much appreciated.

Governors’ update

Judy Carrick has shared this update on behalf of the Council of Governors.

“This winter, the Council of Governors has been busy engaging with our community both inside the hospitals and around Newcastle. A team of four governors enjoyed a rewarding afternoon at Newcastle Sixth Form College just before the Christmas break. We engaged with some highly motivated learners to show them how we governors represent our communities and feed back our findings to the trust.

The team enjoyed modelling health representation and managed to encourage some new sixth form members, too. This was our people, engagement and membership working group’s first step to engaging with more students and young people.

Back inside the hospital, members of the council visited the new Day Treatment Centre and saw the outcome of all the work put in to address waiting times for elective surgery. It is an impressive step and the governors who made the visits agreed that this centre should set a precedent for new builds. Of course, we also continue to visit wards and clinics to speak with staff and patients and gauge the patient experience.

The feedback we get from patients, carers and visitors about staff remains positive and grateful. It has been inspiring for us all; these visits keep us in touch with our community and help us to voice their needs and feedback. It is an extra benefit to be able to report on the progress made to address the feedback and to see the hospitals’ response in action.”

Don’t delay the play

Child development specialists at the Great North Children’s Hospital have launched a new creative initiative called ‘Don’t Delay The Play’ to minimise the impact of long hospital stays on developmental progress.

Children’s occupational therapist, Lindsay Carr, and children’s physiotherapist, Penny Walsh, care for children who need to be in hospital for weeks or even months at a time.

They have designed an interactive poster featuring examples of important developmental play giving parents the confidence to interact and play with their child as they would at home and minimise the impact of long hospital stays on the developmental progress of very young children.

You can read more here.

Good luck NUFC!

This Sunday, Newcastle United will take on Manchester United at Wembley in the Carabao Cup final, the first cup final they have been in for 24 years.

On behalf of everyone in the trust, I want to wish the team good luck and hope they go all the way to bring the trophy back to the City!

Awards and achievements

  • Lasting legacy – Sir Bobby at 90 – Last Saturday (18 February), Sir Bobby Robson would have celebrated his 90th birthday and to celebrate his memory and the incredibly legacy he left us with The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, his family, the football community and Foundation came together to remember him under the umbrella Bobby ’90. You can read more here.
  • Community Diagnostic Centre – Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle Hospitals have secured £20m to develop a Community Diagnostic Centre (CDC) at Metrocentre. The CDC will offer 145,000 appointments per year and create 134 jobs when the centre opens.
  • National recognition – Congratulations to Collaborative Newcastle, who were winners of the ‘People Development Programme of the Year – Public/Not for Profit Sector’ at the 2023 Learning Awards for their work in developing our system leadership programme.Feedback from the judges read: “There was unanimous applaud from all the judges for the leadership programme presented by Collaborative Newcastle; the programme had not only strengthened the workforce but was building leaders for a more sustainable future.“The team were able to showcase the impact the programme was having on leaders in creating networks and opportunities to collaboratively improve system inequalities as well as opportunities across the workforce. The programmes innovation to bring together a cross sector of services for one cause was seen as blueprint for other organisations and a way forward.”