The power of place

Collaborative Newcastle

What is it that makes where we live so special? Is it the landscape, the people, the history, the football clubs or the potential? Perhaps it’s the unique combination of all of those things, woven together, that keep us anchored and inspired by the environment that we find ourselves in.

Newcastle is a city that punches above its weight in many ways and I’m proud that our health services are a source of much pride and respect.

Our local communities really matter and during the pandemic we’ve taken a huge step forward in working together across the city through “Collaborative Newcastle” – our innovative partnership which aims to improve the health, wealth and wellbeing of everyone who lives and works here.

Throughout the pandemic we saw our teams working together and supporting each other in ways that we couldn’t have imagined before – driven and focussed by their mutual drive to help our communities.

At a time when covid forced people to be apart, our community teams pulled together and it’s wonderful to see that work being acknowledged as they have just been shortlisted for a HSJ award for the support they offered to care homes.

Collaborative Newcastle brings together the NHS, local government, higher education, voluntary and community sectors and local business. We’re combining our efforts, expertise and resources to achieve a single, shared vision.

Working collaboratively and creatively, we aim to reduce inequalities, tackle some of the big things that hold people back and provide better opportunities for everyone. Together we are looking at new ways to address the old problems that affect our people and the place we live.

Children and Families

Last week we achieved another significant milestone in the development of Collaborative Newcastle as we launched ‘Children and Families Newcastle’.

It was great to join many local families at the Galafield Centre in Newbiggin Hall during their ‘Best Summer Ever‘ event and to meet members of staff from different organisations who were incredibly proud of what they had achieved together.

Supporting children and families has an immediate impact but importantly, it also influences the longer term life chances of this and future generations. Newcastle already has high-quality services for children and families, committed and expert staff teams across the public and voluntary sector, strong working relationships, as well as good resources and community infrastructure.

But there are some outcomes for our city’s children that we all want to improve. Newcastle has higher rates of children who are subject to child protection plans and higher numbers of children in care than our comparator cities. Our children do less well in school as they get into the older year groups. Our infants go to Accident and Emergency more often than the national average. We also have higher rates of childhood obesity.

To change this we are working together, listening carefully to children, young people and their families, and making positive changes to the way we offer support so that it’s much more tailored to individual needs.

Children and Families Newcastle is made up of three elements:

  • Vibrant Community Hubs – places that people want to go and where they can access a wide range of practical and social activities in their community.
  • Joined up services – we’re looking to create smoother, joined up support – recognising that a family’s experience is as important as the support they access.
  • The Family Partner – a ‘go-to’ contact for children, young people and families. Someone who can work closely and consistently with a family to identify priorities, connect them to communities and, where necessary, help them to access support.

The Galafield Centre is the first of four Community Hubs to open and more will follow across the city. I was able to hear about the different support on offer – from soft play and a café to breastfeeding support, help with debt and access to a food bank.

All of the local services will have a presence in the hubs, including the NHS, local authorities and neighbourhood policing. It’s been designed to be welcoming and friendly, and a safe space for families in difficult times.

Our next step is to create over 30 new roles as family partners to explore what support is available to children, young people and their families, navigate the services on offer and empower them to make positive changes to their lives, creating strong, lasting and trusting relationships and bonds.

The whole programme of transformation is supported by £18million investment, which is made up of contributions from all our partners. This is really important investment for the future and hopefully we can encourage children at high risk of poor health outcomes to avoid some of the inequality traps that are in front of them.

If we’re successful, they will set out on a path to create strong families, better incomes in stable jobs and all-round better health and wellbeing – not just for them, but for their future families as well.

Improving the health, wealth and wellbeing of the communities is one of the most important responsibilities – and privileges – we have. I want to thank everyone in our children’s and community services who have contributed to this important work, and I look forward to seeing the positive impact.

Staff wellbeing

Our staff team are as important as our patients. Without looking after them we can’t offer outstanding care and treatment and you will know how committed I am to driving up the quality of experience and support for the whole team.

We still have a long way to go before we can be satisfied with the facilities and opportunities we have to support staff, and we need to keep challenging ourselves to improve. I wanted to acknowledge the hard work and commitment of two teams of people today.

Firstly our catering teams at all of our sites who have worked so hard throughout the pandemic to keep people fed and watered. This was highlighted last week as Geoff Moyle received his British Empire Medal from the Lord Lieutenant, Susan Winfield. In his acceptance speech he paid a heartfelt tribute to all of his team, whose work is essential to all of us.

Secondly I wanted to mention the ‘workforce group’ a team of staff including staff side and chaplaincy representatives who meet weekly to challenge and develop our offer to staff and to feed in the views of the people they represent.

Through this group, we’ve been able to develop new mental health resources, ensure that we have understood staff views as we have tackled the different phases of the pandemic, and made sure that communication through the organisation is clear and helpful.

Every member of staff is able to feed in their views and we always welcome feedback. In my next blog, I’ll focus on how we will be building in further ways to hear from and respond to staff so that we can continue to make things better.

Project menopause

I’m pleased to share with staff our next event ‘Talking about all things Menopause’ for Project Menopause which will be held on Monday 27 September from 5pm to 6pm.

Diana Mansour, Head of Clinical Service – Sexual Health Medical Staff, will be giving the talk followed by a Q&A. Book a place here 

CQC feedback

I’m delighted to confirm that we have received official feedback from the CQC in relation to their IRMER inspections of our radiotherapy and nuclear medicine services. Both services reached the required standards (which is very high!) and I’m very grateful to everyone who contributed to this success.

I’d also like to thank the team at the paediatric sexual assault referral centre who were inspected earlier this month. We’ve received positive initial feedback and await the final report.

I don’t underestimate the efforts that go into these inspections from all members of the team, and it’s reassuring that we are able to demonstrate our high standards despite the acute pressures we are facing.

Integrated Covid hub receives national praise

Our integrated Covid hub (ICHNE) recently received praise from NHS Providers chief executive, Chris Hopson, following a virtual visit.

The ICHNE team outlined how the hub is strengthening the North East’s resilience and infrastructure, both for this pandemic and for responding to future public health challenges.

In a discussion about how the hub has co-ordinated elements of our regional response to COVID-19 and been at the forefront of Covid laboratory work, Chris commented that the breadth and scale of the achievement were “incredibly impressive”, sharing a view that the blueprint for setting up and managing such hubs could have “application nationally and internationally as a model.”

The hub is managed by the trust and provides: capacity to process 40k samples a day at our purpose-built Lighthouse (covid testing) lab; a dedicated innovation lab to evaluate cutting-edge approaches to Covid testing and a co-ordination and response centre, which shares data, insight and resources across the health and care system to strengthen the pandemic response.

Since ‘go live’ in March 2021, the Lighthouse lab team has processed over 3.5 million tests.

Great North Run

The Great North Run will take place on Sunday 12 September, and for the first time ever it will begin and end in Newcastle.

It’s great to see this iconic North East event returning after an absence last year due to covid and I’m grateful to Brendan Foster for making this year’s event a ‘Great North Thank you’ to the NHS and everyone who has worked as a keyworker throughout the pandemic.

Jade Trewick, a sister on ward 49 at the RVI, will be representing us as one of the official starters of the event alongside colleagues from neighbouring trusts.

The Great North Run is also an important event for our charity which plays such an important role in supporting staff wellbeing, patient experience and innovation across the trust.

Good luck if you are taking part in the event, and if you are volunteering or supporting the trust’s clinical response next weekend can I say a huge thank you.

If you would like to donate to Newcastle Hospitals charity you can do so here.

Awards and achievements

After one of the most demanding and challenging years on record for the NHS, it was great news to hear that the organisation has been named a finalist for the Acute or Specialist Trust of the Year in the HSJ Awards.

We have also been shortlisted in a number of other categories including:

  • Outstanding Contribution to Healthcare – Newcastle Collaborative
  • Connecting Services and Information / Provider Collaboration of the Year – The Great North Care Record (on behalf of North East and North Cumbria ICS)

Congratulations also to our NIHR Patient Recruitment Centre Newcastle who were finalists in the Digital Clinical Transformation category of last night’s HSJ Values Awards for their work in developing the RELIEVE IBS-D trial – one of the first fully interventional clinical trials to be conducted in England.

Our purpose-built Lighthouse has been shorlisted for Building Magazine Project of the Year. The lab was designed & constructed in just four months, a truly outstanding achievement, only made possible by our fantastic estates team and amazing partnerships including Turner Townsend.

Our teams’ innovative approaches to ensuring high quality student nurse placements continued across Newcastle during the height of the pandemic have also been shortlisted in this year’s Student Nursing Times Awards.

Claire Winter, a clinical educator based in the central operating department at the Freeman Hospital, and the health visiting / school nursing team in Newcastle’s out of hospitals and community services have both been recognised for their work which you can find out more about here.