Supporting our nurses, midwives and allied health professionals

I started my career over 40 years ago as a nurse.  It was my first passion, and it was through my training and nursing experience that I established my lifelong commitment to the NHS.  I will always consider myself to be a nurse first and foremost.

So, I was absolutely delighted to see the launch of our nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals strategy last week, which lays out our aspirations to develop Newcastle Hospitals as a centre of excellence for this dedicated group of staff.

Today, I wanted to hand over my blog to our Executive Chief Nurse, Maurya Cushlow, to highlight the strategy and the ambitious work we will undertake together over the next five years.

Our Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professional Strategy, from Maurya Cushlow

I am very pleased to be able to present our new NMAHP strategy.  This is our five-year plan, and it’s our pledge to our patients and families to show how we will continuously improve the quality and effectiveness of the care that we provide.

We have drawn on the knowledge and experience of the whole team to develop this strategy.  Nurses, midwives and allied health professionals are the biggest staff group in the trust, numbering over 7000, and they are a very valued part of the team.

Many of you have helped to shape our strategy through engaging in ‘the big event’ in 2020 where we began our conversations about ‘what matters to you’ and what matters to our professions. I hope that you will see the contributions you made as you read the strategy and explore our plans.

Our strategy fits well within the overarching vision and values and trust strategy, and it draws out the unique professional skill and clinical expertise which our professions contribute, and which are so valued.

I want our strategy to be accessible, visible and understandable, and to be meaningful to each of our colleagues.  I hope that you can see that it recognises the uniqueness of our individual professional groups, whilst demonstrating what makes nurses, midwives and allied health professionals an essential part of an outstanding team.

Throughout the next five years, we will continually engage and communicate with staff and agree together our high impact actions each year to lead us towards our goals.

We will work together to continuously improve the quality of care for our patients and ensure all of our staff are supported to liberate their potential and be the best they can be. Our aspiration is to develop Newcastle Hospitals locally, nationally and internationally as a centre of excellence for nurses, midwives and allied health professional leadership, education, clinical practice and academic research.

This strategy outlines six key priority areas, and I’d like to highlight how we propose to achieve our aspirations:

You can click on any of the priorities to find out more about them.  This will take you to our interactive webzone where you will be able to see more about our commitment in each area, and our plans.

As the strategy develops you will also be able to see our progress through this site and there will be a range of other interactive tools and resources for you to explore.

Focus on NMAHP research

This month, we launched our strategy with this video which we’d like to share widely with our teams,  and we’re also focusing on our priority to increase our research opportunities and impact whilst strengthening our academic links.

Throughout August we will feature the diverse work being led by our NMAHPs in research and have events lined up each Wednesday. The first took place this week focusing on Newcastle’s new, exclusive Researcher Development Institute when we welcomed guest speaker Dr Joanne Cooper, Head of Nursing Research / Research Transformation for NHS England.

The trust’s Researcher Development Institute was agreed in March and officially launched on 3 August thanks to a major £3.2m grant from Newcastle Hospitals Charity. It is dedicated to supporting and advancing research talent amongst our NMAHPs and you can learn more about it in this video.

One of the key drivers for establishing this Institute is to support NMAHP researchers to access funded postgraduate research training and the associated backfill required to cover clinical commitments. We want to enable our staff to have the flexibility and autonomy to develop and sustain the required research skills and confidence to lead research alongside their clinical practice.  We are very proud that our Institute offers a new, innovative avenue for driving forward valuable research which benefits our patients, staff and the population beyond.

We were delighted to recently announce our very first NMAHP Researcher Development Institute Fellows following a highly competitive and rigorous application process. They are:

  • Sarah Hogg, a clinical research nurse specialising in hepatology (liver medicine), who has secured funding support to undertake a Masters in Research Fellowship to determine the acceptability and feasibility of motivational interviewing in alcohol related liver disease.
  • Sarah Stephen, a speech and language therapist at the Freeman Hospital, who will carry out a Doctoral Fellowship exploring how transoral surgery affects swallowing and communication in the first six-weeks after surgery in oropharyngeal cancer.
  • Raya Vinogradov, a clinical research radiographer in midwifery, who will also carry out a Doctoral Fellowship with the aim of developing resources to support women in making informed decisions about the use of aspirin during pregnancy to reduce the risk of preeclampsia.

Congratulations to all of our researchers. If you’re inspired by their work, or interested in research more generally, I very much hope that you will join us in the events that are taking place throughout August and September, details of which can be found here.

I’m excited to be beginning our journey together and look forward to the achievements that will come.  Thank you to all of my colleagues for your unwavering support and dedication.

Maurya Cushlow

Executive Chief Nurse

Innovation Lab supports cancer research

It was great news that our team of North East Innovation Lab scientists have secured a share of £218k funding for a consortium project to develop a new diagnostic for the early detection of pancreatic cancer.

The award is jointly supported by Cancer Research UK, the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for the project which is in collaboration with University College London, University Bristol, University of Surrey and Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust to develop an assay to detect pancreatic cancer in its early stages.

Currently pancreatic cancer is difficult to detect until an advanced stage, which reduces treatment options for patients and can mean the cancer is incurable. This project is developing methods to amplify the signal from the cancer biomarkers to make them more detectable. The lab will evaluate the assay which is being developed by our collaborators and verify its performance. To learn more about the work of the lab watch the video. You can find out more about the project here.

National Audit of end of life care results

The results of the National Audit of Care at the End of Life 2021 – which compares the quality and outcomes of care experienced by the dying person and those important to them during the last admission leading to death – were recently published and I’m pleased to share that the trust’s results were above the national average in many domains. A massive ‘thank you’ goes to nurse specialist in end of life care, Lizzy Zabrocki, who led on this audit on behalf of the trust as well as the rest of the team.

A warm welcome to our new doctors

I’d like to give a warm welcome to our new postgraduate doctors who joined Newcastle Hospitals this week, as well as acknowledging and saying thank you to all those who have moved on too! It’s an exciting time but also quite daunting – please remember you are never alone so speak up if you have any worries or concerns.

Staff, family and friends joined the rainbow parade at Northern Pride

It was fantastic to see so many people all come together again this year to celebrate Northern Pride and join the annual tradition of marching the colourful procession through the city centre.

Newcastle colleagues and their families enjoyed a Pride breakfast reception at Newcastle Civic Centre, alongside North East Ambulance Service, Northumbria Police, Northumbria PCC, and Tyne & Wear Fire and Rescue Service. This featured the Blue Light Choir, singing to an audience of around 500 people and gave our staff the opportunity to meet other LGBTQ+ colleagues and allies and learn about the great work being done in other organisations to ensure inclusion for all.

The Rainbow Village hosted a stand with staff available to talk all about working at Newcastle Hospitals, including vacancies and advising on the support we provide patients. In addition to this, we also hosted a sexual health stall in the Health & Wellbeing Zone, providing everyone with free STI tests, and Assistant Chief Executive Caroline Docking joined the team as a volunteer for the day which you can read more about here.

Thank you to everyone who participated – Pride is a time for us to reflect on the progress we’ve made towards LGBT equality and to acknowledge the fact that we stand on the shoulders of all those who have fought so hard over the years to achieve this. It is also a time for us to acknowledge that we still have so much more to do.

Organ donation

Last week I was delighted to see that little Grace Westwood – who has called the Freeman Hospital home for the last two years – finally got to go home with her family after having a heart transplant. Grace became the first patient in the UK to have a mobile Berlin Heart driving unit fitted last May meaning she could go to the park for the very first time. Her family shared this wonderful video of the moment she left Children’s Heart Unit.

Grace waited two years to have her transplant and sadly many families find themselves facing an

(l-r) Ethan Mains 3 , Beatrix-Adamson-Archbold 18 months , Nour hussein 8 and Luke Myles 1 need heart transplant from a donor and is currently at the Freeman hospital in Newcastle (Image PA)

indefinite wait for a donor organ. As you may have seen in the news the families of five children desperately waiting for a life-saving heart transplant at the Freeman hospital have come together to raise awareness of organ donation. I was moved to see them bravely share their sons and daughters’ stories in the hope that their collective voice and shared experience will encourage others to have conversations about organ donation. You can read more about organ donation here.