Transforming our hospitals and looking ahead

In the Downing Street press conference on Wednesday, the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris

Whitty reminded us that we needed to be realistic about the time it will take for measures like social distancing in the UK to be eased.

He made it clear that we will all need to continue with some very different ways of behaving for quite a long period of time.

It’s been remarkable to see the breadth of transformation that we’ve achieved in the hospitals within such a short period of time. Added to this – the determination that everyone has shown to continue to provide the best care for our patients has been inspiring.

With cases of COVID-19 in the hospital beginning to ease a little thanks to the hard work of local people in social distancing, it seems appropriate to begin to think about what Newcastle Hospitals will look like in the future, both in the medium and long-term in the context of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

We can’t simply return to the way things have been before, and I don’t think we would want to. We will need to focus on being brave and insightful so that the future is one that that we can be proud of creating. We will never have an opportunity like this again, to rebuild and recreate our NHS so that it is fit for the future.

That future needs to not just be about the way we provide services, but also about the way we work and in particular staff wellbeing at work. You will know how passionate I am to ensure that we are all able to #Flourish at Newcastle Hospitals.

I’ve been thinking about some of the things that you’ve told me over the last two years that make work life more difficult. I’ve particularly heard that flexibility and making the time to work differently are two persistent challenges. They are things which we have been working to overcome and we should seize this opportunity to make sure that we continue to work differently in the future, keeping hold of the positive practices which have emerged. We have the freedom now to do ‘the right thing’ in a way which we couldn’t have imagined just a short time ago.

I’m absolutely committed to listening to and engaging with staff in this reset and I’m keen to hear your views and ideas. We will have several ways to do this which we will ask directorates to establish and you can send your thoughts to [email protected]

It’s important that we don’t rush ahead too quickly.Our first priority must always be to our patients, and we continue to have many who are unwell, some critically ill, with COVID-19. We also need to continue to support those with other long-term or acute conditions to have confidence in our care. We need to be considered and mindful, but also purposeful and clear.

Our clinical and managerial leaders have been constantly thinking through the ways in which we will reintroduce services. Our highly specialised teams including those involved in cancer, in children’s services and a treatment of a range of rare disorders have been continuously balancing ongoing treatment and care for those who need it.

I know that throughout this time, we will continue to be led by our values which mean so much to us:

Having now been part of Team Newcastle for almost two years, I continue to be very proud of everything we have achieved, never more so than in recent weeks.

Thank you so much for continued efforts

A message to our BAME team members

I know that many of you will be concerned about the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on BAME

colleagues across the UK. This is based on data that shows that 34% of those admitted to UK intensive care units with COVID-19 were Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME), whilst the BAME population in the UK is only 17%.

A national inquiry has been launched to try to understand this and we are looking closely at our local data to understand how we can help in practical ways.

One of the things that makes Newcastle special and stronger is that we are inclusive – and our BAME colleagues are important members of our team. I want to recognise and acknowledge the additional impact that this situation is having on BAME staff.

Please talk to your managers if you are concerned about yourself or your family or if you would like any support. We have robust arrangements in place for testing staff and household members in Newcastle and I would strongly encourage all staff, and especially BAME staff, to contact occupational health as soon as they notice any relevant symptoms. The occupational health team are also able to offer health advice and support if you are worried. Occupational health can be contacted on 0191 282 4800 or email [email protected]

Our BAME staff network and our other staff networks continue to operate and are keen to listen to staff so that we can put arrangements in place that will help. Please contact them [email protected]

Emergency Department

Emergency Department performance is usually a temperature check for how the NHS is running, but this year the focus has understandably been elsewhere. So I wanted to take a moment to say congratulations and thank you to everyone who helped us to see 94.3% of people within the required 4 hour standard.

Seeing patients quickly has a significant impact on their recovery and we should be very proud that we continue to be one of the top performing trusts in the country.

This is an achievement for the whole trust including those who ensure that patients flow through all parts of our hospitals in a timely way, and those who provide support in the community to ensure that people only come to the Emergency Department when they need to.

Clap for carers

Yesterday, we recognised all those working across the city in the community, social care, care homes and rehab teams alongside our colleagues at Newcastle City Council.

We put together this short video to celebrate their important role during the pandemic:


Our inflammatory bowel disease team has been shortlisted in the Royal College of Physicians of London ‘Excellence in Patient Care Awards’ for Person Centred Care.

Congratulations to the team and good luck.