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April 1st 2016

Gavin Boyle

As a newcomer to Derby Teaching Hospitals, you can’t help but notice the amazing contribution of our volunteers. So it was a real pleasure on Thursday to be asked to go along to say a few words at the annual volunteers long service awards. You may not realise it, but between Derby Teaching Hospitals, the League of Friends at the Royal Derby and London Road, and the Macmillan volunteers, we have around 800 people giving up their time to support the Trust. It is a huge number, and it’s hard to imagine what our hospitals would be like without their selfless contribution. Whether they are driving the buggies, taking the trolleys around the wards, helping patients at mealtimes, supporting out cancer patients, the jobs they do are far reaching and incredibly valued. One of the groups I have been particularly grateful for since I arrived is the Meeters and Greeters, who’ve saved me when I’ve been lost! There were some great stories – one of our volunteers has been with us for forty years! And at the other end of the spectrum one of our younger helpers had just been accepted to train as a midwife thanks in part to the experience she’d gained with us as a volunteer.

I’ve certainly done a bit of roaming about this week – and it’s had quite a surgical theme. I’ve visited lots of areas within the Diagnostics, Surgery and Anaesthetics Division. I had a trip to the urology wards, the day case and general theatres, the ophthalmology department and head and neck services. I’ve had the opportunity to talk to lots of colleagues working in what seemed like a huge variety of roles. 

The thing which impressed me the most on these visits were the great examples of innovation and service improvement. Colleagues working in these departments had really thought about ways they could change what they do to improve quality of care for patients and, at the same time, make their services more efficient. One great example was in the eye department, where nursing colleagues are now able to perform the injections needed to treat ARMD, a sight condition which affects many older people.  Not only does this change ensure patients receive their sight-saving injections in a timely way, but it also helps to take some of the pressure of their medical colleagues. Just one example but there were so many more. 

Fortunately, on Wednesday afternoon, I had a bit of a rest from my wanderings , when I attended a leadership community event. It was a chance to catch up on what we have been doing with the Collective Leadership programme, which was right up my street and very much in tune with the way I approach my role. It’s so important to work in a place where people feel free to make improvements and take decisions as close to patients as possible without feeling that they endlessly have to seek approval. It’s better to ask forgiveness than permission is one of my mottoes! It was also an opportunity for me to share with colleagues some of my thoughts about how I approach my role, and the importance of keeping patient care central to what’s driving us as a Trust – it’s the star we steer the ship by.

This week, we have had chance to reflect on learning from the Breaking the Cycle event. I really think it is the start of something big, in terms of how we apply what we have learned, particularly regarding how we can reduce or length of stay and bring discharges forward in a safe way. At the end of the day no one wants to be in hospital a moment longer than they need to be. 

One priority is how can we ensure that patients can have their discharge as early in the day as possible without having to wait around unnecessarily. Speeding up our processes, for example making sure take home drugs are available, using the discharge lounge etc, will also help to establish flow from ED to MAU to the base wards as early as possible, improving the care for the next patient waiting for admission.

And finally, this morning we had the Finance and Investment Committee. It was the first one I had attended and, naturally, quite a formal and sober affair, perhaps not surprising given the financial challenges in the NHS these days. We had a presentation from Andrew Hall, one of our Divisional Directors, to update us on progress in his division. He began with the shocking announcement regarding an unexpected and unusual financial issue in his area causing great consternation around the room. He then reminded us of the date – April 1. It was one of the rare occasions that NHS finances has actually raised a laugh as far as I can recall.  I have to say the rest of the discussions were not quite so jolly, as we got down to the serious business of next year’s contracts and our updated plan, which is to be submitted during April.

All in all, it’s been quite a busy week. Lots to see and lots of people to meet ­- as well as doing the day job. I’m looking forward to my weekend, and hoping that the weather is a bit better this time around, so I can get out into the hills. But I always spare a thought for those colleagues who are keeping the show on the road and our patients well looked after over the weekend. A special thanks to them.

All the best,

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