Spring is in the air

April brings with it signs of spring. I was in the Lake District very recently and loved seeing the new lambs being born on the fells and the countryside waking up and beginning to bloom.

In the Trust, April brings the start of a new financial year, when our budgets and annual performance is reset. It’s a great time to reflect on the achievements we have made together and our hopes for the future.

We start this New Year in a very strong position – and I wanted to comment particularly on a few of the fabulous achievements that we should be very proud of.

One very highly scrutinised area for us is our Emergency Department. Our front door to the hospital, which sees huge numbers of patients everyday – the new record being 484 patients in one particularly hectic 24 hour period in March.

I’m delighted to say that we are one of a select few departments in the country to have met the annual 4 hour target with an overall performance of 95.47%. We also met the last month and quarter. This is the first time we have met the annual target in 4 years, and it is entirely down to the commitment, expertise and teamwork of all staff who work in the ED, as well as colleagues throughout the Trust who have supported flow through the hospital.


Alongside that achievement, the team has also made significant quality improvements in identifying sepsis, supporting people with mental health needs and has been complimented by NHS England’s Clinical Director for Trauma for the high standards they achieve.

I’d also like to mention our cancer services, although pressures in cancer services have meant that we’ve not quite reached the target overall this year, we have nevertheless supported services regionally to provide some of the very best cancer care in the UK. Across the North East and Cumbria the one year, five year and ten year survival rates for cancer patients have increased dramatically and we are also introducing game changing new treatments such as CAR T-cell treatments which mark the beginning of a new era of personalised medicine.

I know that each of our clinical services will have patient care achievements and developments that you are proud of and which are making a difference to our patients’ lives. Let’s all take a few minutes this week to reflect and celebrate those achievements.

Away from the front line of patient care there are many other successes which can sometimes be a little taken for granted but in fact have an important impact on our ability to care for our patients and support our staff. Financially we are once again ending the year in a very strong position. This has taken a lot of hard work from people in every single part of the organisation. We know that financial pressures in the NHS as a whole are unlikely to diminish, but our success at managing our finances means that we can make our own choices about where to invest without additional oversight.

I was delighted to see so many people engaging with the staff survey results at the Flourish event last

I was delighted to see so many people engaging with the staff survey results at the Flourish event last week.

week. We have firmly placed the staff survey as an important part of our Flourish programme and a way for staff to have a clear voice in our organisation. The increase in our response rate to the survey this year is an important success, which will position us well for the year ahead.

2019/20 will be a big year for the NHS and for us at Newcastle Hospitals as we take an even more substantial role in the region and nationally. Delivering the NHS Long Term Plan will give us a huge opportunity to influence and improve specialist pathways, work more closely with our NHS and other partners, and develop even more
innovative approaches.

Shortly, we will be agreeing our next 5 year strategy which will set out our vision, values and strategic framework for the future. But I’ve been working in the NHS long enough to know that none of us can really guess what the future will hold. I know that it will be exciting, and I am looking forward to the journey.

Thank you all for your hard work, care and enthusiasm over the past year. No matter where you work in our organisation, you have all played a part in our success.

Flourish and Excellence Awards

How are you getting on with your April challenges as part of #PledgeItPlanIt? It’s great to hear about your efforts to make healthy habits at work and at home.

I wanted to highlight our next Flourish theme for ‘Mindful May’ which is being curated by the Health Psychology and Occupational Health teams. They are arranging mindfulness activities and resources to use throughout the month and are also holding 30-minute mindfulness taster sessions, which you might like to pop in your diary:

  • Wednesday 1 May – Education Centre, Function Room 137, Freeman Hospital
  • Friday 3 May – Medicinema, RVI

Both events start from midday until 4pm (with the last session finishing at 4.30pm) and each
drop-in session starts on the hour and lasts 30 minutes.

You can always find out more about flourish activities, and access resources from previous months on  the website here.



Today is the last day that we are accepting nominations for our first staff Excellence Awards, so if you’ve been meaning to fill in a form now is your final chance. You can nominate online here.


Red boxes

It’s been fantastic to see so many of our s

taff get behind The Red Box Project, helping to ensure no young woman misses school, or is embarrassed because of her period.

The response from across the entire organisation has been phenomenal – just another example of wonderful empathy expressed in extraordinary generosity.

National successes

I’m delighted to see that we have four finalists in the RCNi Nurse Awards, congratulations to:

  • Newcastle Hospitals’ Carers and young carers working group – Commitment to Carers Award
  • Ben Hood, CRUK Research Nurse Specialist – Excellence in Cancer Research
  • Lisa Price, Research Sister – Excellence in Cancer Research
  • Lisa Morgan, Healthcare Assistant – Healthcare Assistant Award

In addition to this, Trust Catering Manager, Geoffrey Moyle, has been shortlisted for the Hospital Caterer Awards in two categories: Caterer of the Year and Efficiency & Improvement.

Good luck to all our finalists!

A special mention to Yvonne Scott, Transfusion Manager for Blood Sciences, who has been awarded with the British Blood Transfusion Society Gold Medal for 2019 – acknowledging her significant contribution within the field of transfusion medicine.

A pleasure to welcome Chris Hopson and colleagues from NHS Providers. A great opportunity to share our fabulous services and show the skills of our outstanding staff.

Visit from Chris Hopson

I was delighted to welcome Chris Hopson, Chief Executive of NHS Providers to the Trust on 11 April.

NHS Providers is the membership organisation for NHS hospitals and other NHS services, helping us to deliver high-quality, patient-focused care, acting as a public voice for the sector and helping to shape the system in which we operate.

Chris was able to visit the Emergency Department, RVI Labs and the Great North Children’s Hospital and was overwhelmed by the optimism and opportunity he saw here in Newcastle.
He commented on the capability, capacity and talent of staff which shone through everywhere he visited.

Success for the Biomedical Research Centre

The NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) has been praised by an international Panel following the successful submission of its progress review, two years into its five year funding award. The panel commended the NIHR Newcastle BRC for the shared vision for translational ageing research that has been developed across the Newcastle Hospitals and Newcastle University Partnership and praised the strong collaboration between research themes as well as the unifying focus on ageing research. Congratulations to everyone in the team.

Your chance to become a Governor

Our Council of Governors is a vital part of the Trust representing the interests of staff, patients and the public and ensuring that the Board of Directors continues to act effectively. It’s a really important role and a great way to learn more about the workings of one of the biggest and most complex organisations in the NHS.

We are looking for up staff who would like to be considered to take on this role for the next three years. Governors are elected by our members – and as members of staff you are all eligible to become members and have your say. You can join by clicking here

The current vacancies are for the following staff categories:

  • Ancillary and Estates
  • Nursing, Midwifery and related
  • Volunteers
  • Medical and Dental
  • Health Professionals Council and related

If you are in one of these staff groups and would like to work more closely to make a difference please get in touch. The closing date is Wednesday 17 April. You can find more information on the Trust website here