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April 27th 2018

Gavin Boyle

It’s a special week at Derby Teaching Hospitals as we celebrate the work of all our people over the last 12 months to improve the experience of our patients. We held the first ever Patient Experience week last April and this year’s event looks to be an even bigger success. I went along on Monday morning for the launch, which was really well attended. Cathy, our Chief Nurse, who is also the Executive member of the Board with a particular responsibility for improving patient experience, opened with a brief presentation describing some of the progress made over the last 12 months. 

One of the highlights has been the recruitment of 280 patient experience champions, who are colleagues from all different parts of the hospital who have stepped forward to take a leading role in this important work. We also launched the ‘Go For It!’ fund, so that any colleague who has a great idea about how we can deliver a better service can access some funds to make their project a reality. So, for example, one successful ‘Go For It’ idea was the use of Digital Voice Enhancers for hard of hearing patients to help them hear more clearly what healthcare professionals are telling them. We also trialled a community based Hepatitis testing service to reach vulnerable homeless people. Improving the patient experience is all about making our hospitals the sort of place that we would be happy to receive care ourselves – it’s about treating every patient as if they’re a member of our own families, thinking about the sort of care we’d expect if it was our Mum, Dad or loved one. I was particularly moved by a patient story that morning and I was delighted that Pamela, who had quite a complex history of using services at the hospital, came to share her experience, together with Karen Taylor, a member of our Enhanced Discharge Team. Pamela’s situation was a complex mixture of health and social care needs, which were proving extremely difficult to manage and resulting in multiple attendance and admissions to the Hospital. Karen and her team were able to support Pamela in finding a lasting solution to some of these challenges. It was great to see how by thinking of our patients in a holistic way and seeing them as, indeed we all are, a unique human beings rather than simply the presenting medical condition, we were able to find better solutions to Pamela’s needs. I sense from Pamela’s story that the support of Karen and her team had made a huge difference to her life and it was marvellous that she could attend the event, share her story in person and see her lovely smile.

I had a day out of the Trust on Tuesday when I attended the supervisory board of a ‘not for profit’ organisation called GS1. I act as a Non-Executive Director on their supervisory board. They’re an interesting organisation and their role is to regulate and provide the bar codes that you see on all-sorts of products in every walk of life. Now you might be wondering what on earth has bar codes got to do with delivering hospital services – well regular blog readers will have heard me talk before about Scan for Safety which is a Department of Health sponsored initiative to use this technology in ways to help improve care and particularly to avoid harm and increase patient safety. Derby Teaching Hospitals was the first Trust in the country to be fully accredited through the Scan For Safety programme and we’re national and possibly international leaders in how this technology can be used to deliver hospital services in a better way. Now, there are obvious gains through things like improved management of our medical supplies etc. and the financial benefits that have accrued through using this technology have been significant. But increasingly now we are looking at how we can use barcodes to ensure we have got the right patients receiving the right treatment at the right time. Every patient now has a wrist band with a unique barcode, as have the medicines and consumable items, such as surgical implants etc. What this means is that there is an opportunity to use this to cross check that we have the right patients with the right procedure, the right medicines etc. We are now working on getting our barcode reader systems to talk to our electronic patient record so that we can take the human error out of the checking process, which is so critical to achieving safe care. Sat around the table were representatives of all sorts of well know companies like Amazon, Sainsbury’s and Tesco’s etc. They were certainly surprised and to some degree amazed at how the NHS was now embracing this technology in such an innovative and patient focused way. 

As usual, I have been doing a round of briefings regarding our partnership with Burton Hospitals. On Monday night, we met with both Councils of Governors to update them on the further work we have been doing with NHSI regarding our proposals. It’s always good to meet with the Governors and it’s nice to see Council Members from both Burton and Derby working together. They ask some pretty tough questions but often get us to think about what we need to do in a different way. We also had some Staff Briefings this week at Royal Derby Hospital and down at London Road too. As ever, I always enjoy my trips to London Road Community Hospital and it was good to spend an hour or so with colleagues there talking about our plans. One thing we reflected on was that the new organisation will have no fewer than three community hospitals, including Sir Robert Peel at Tamworth and Samuel Johnson at Lichfield. You could say that the community hospitals will outnumber the Acutes! But seriously, I think it might change our focus as an organisation with the community hospitals becoming an increasingly important part of what we’re about. You may not realise it but our payroll service is based down at London Road and it was great to catch up with a couple of colleagues from that service. Since the beginning of January, our payroll has also been delivering the service for colleagues in Burton too. It is an early step towards the two organisations coming together. I was impressed by how committed those colleagues were to delivering a good service to our partner Trust. 

Ending on a high note, I was delighted to be asked to attend the closing session of the latest cohort of the Derby Lead Programme. I mentioned quite a few months back that I joined the first session to launch the programme. It was great to touch base once again with colleagues who had been on this learning experience together and hear some of their feedback and also for them to share some of their work. They described three ideas that they had been working on as part of the programme, which are all about how we could support colleagues working in the new organisation to connect and work together. 

When we form the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton, this will be a considerable organisation, with over 12,500 people so finding ways to enable colleagues to work together is one of the major challenges. Their ideas ranged from how we communicate the aims of the organisation all the way through every part of the Trust so that we’re all pulling in the same direction. This is what I often call the ‘Golden Thread’. In fact, they actually gave me some golden thread, or rather a golden ball of wool, which I will use to remind me of this important idea. Another group had worked on a project to set up an electronic forum for staff to share thoughts and ideas to make contact with colleagues in different parts of the organisation and finally the development of a handbook for new leaders to help provide advice and guidance on how to work effectively in the new organisation. Simon Holmes, who is part of the project over-seeing the integration of the two Trusts, has a particular focus on what’s called ‘organisational development’. That’s all about supporting every one of our people to get the very best out of the change and Simon will be working with the colleagues I met at the Derby Lead Programme to make sure that we use their ideas to support this important work. 

After the sunshine of last week, it feels we are back to a bit of chilly weather and rain. Never mind but hopefully that won’t be the last of the summer! And although the hospital continues to be busy it does feel there are some green shoots and the pressure is easing a little. As ever, I am always hugely proud of all of my colleagues here at the Trust and recognise the pressures we’ve seen over what felt like an almost endless winter. We had our Finance and Investment Committee this morning and high on the Agenda was our plans for next winter and the capacity that we believe we’ll need – it is a long way to go to bring those ideas to fruition but it’s important that we start our plans early so that we’re as ready as can be.

Have a great weekend.

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