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April 8th 2016

Gavin Boyle

As usual, this week I managed to escape from the office and get out and about visiting colleagues, getting to know people, so more of that later. But just to reassure you, I do actually do some proper work as well and this week we had a Board meeting which was my first at the Trust in my new role and this time it had a real partnership flavour. 

We talked a lot about something called the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) - which is a bit of a mouthful - but is about developing a five year plan for Derbyshire that involves all of the health organisations and local authorities and other key stakeholders to come up with a joined-up plan which aims to improve the care of local people, helping to keep them healthy and out of hospital when
possible, but making sure that, when needed, acute services are there too. 

What’s really refreshing about this approach is how the individual partners are seeking to put behind them the narrow interests of their own organisations and think about what’s best for the wider system and, most importantly, for the communities we serve. And although the challenges are many, I’ve been impressed by the enthusiasm of our partners and the openness to work together like never before. Also at the Board we talked about our developing relationship with Burton Hospitals; we were looking at how we can work together to improve services and how we might develop a longer-term service model which would benefit people in Derbyshire and Staffordshire.

Also at the Board we reflected on the considerable operational pressures our hospitals are facing at the moment and, although blossom is on the trees, it still feels like winter is well and truly present. We recognised the hard work and commitment of all our people in keeping our patients safe and we’re taking stock of where we now need to focus our efforts, particularly to reduce the occupancy in our wards and improve discharge, in order to restore the flow of patients through our hospitals, enabling them to return home as soon as it is safe for them to do so. 

We also updated on our Quality Strategy and the progress being made – this remains one of the top priorities for the Board and we also noted that the CQC are planning to return to the Trust in August, although this time it will be a smaller scale visit to review the progress we have made since 2014 when we had our major inspection which rated us very creditably as ‘GOOD’. 

So that was my first Board and I have to say I was impressed by the frankness and lively debate and by a real sense of patient care as our guiding principle.

As for my wandering this week – well, Monday morning took me to Radiology where I had a full update from Penny Owens on some of the challenges facing the imaging service, but also on some of their great examples of innovation and their plans for the future. Then Dave Tipper took me on a walkabout across several areas in imaging and I had a fascinating time in Nuclear Medicine, where I met Dudley Ibbett, who is the head of Nuclear Medicine and Nick Storry, the Chief Technologist. 

They explained how they used radioactive substances as part of the diagnostic process for a wide range of conditions including patients with respiratory problems, cancer, musculoskeletal conditions, cardiac and more.  Then on to cross sectional imaging to meet with Sue Jackson who is the Superintendent Radiographer in MRI. One of the challenges we face as a Trust is the rising demand for this type of imaging, both from primary care but also to support our own services, and you might have noticed the large mobile scanners that visit the RDH site from time to time. As I am sure you are aware we have a major capital project for two MRI scanners with an option for a third which will significantly increase our ability to offer this service to patients in a timely way. The new scanners will arrive in July and will be operational soon after that. The new unit looks really good already and will be fabulous when its finished.

And this morning I met up with Krishna Kallianpur, Divisional Nursing Director from Planned Care, to visit some of her areas. We went to 201 and 207. 201 is our short stay surgery ward and 207 is our orthopaedic admissions and daycase ward, however, at the moment they’re also helping us look after medical patients following the rise in emergency admissions. Sister Angela on Ward 207 and Sister Fiona on Ward 202 have done a fabulous job in supporting their teams to cope with this temporary change in role and we hope normal service will be resumed shortly! 

Winter pressures remain with us, but we need to find a way now to reduce the additional capacity we’re using in order to concentrate our clinical teams in the right places to restore normal running and patient flow, which, in turn, will ease the pressure in the acute areas like ED and MAU. Some of the learning from the recent Breaking the Cycle week will help us with this. 

I met with two of our Junior Doctor leaders this week with Nigel our Medical Director, to hear their point of view about the national dispute, and to listen. I was impressed by their commitment to patient care, as well as by their desire to preserve the values of their profession and also to support present and future colleagues. We all agreed that this dispute is something that no one wants, and we agreed that, hopefully, some dialogue nationally will resume to support a return to normality. But it was great to hear how positive they were about our hospitals in spite of this national wrangle.

So, as another week comes to a close I am spending time today with some of our local MPs, briefing them on some of the great things you are doing in the Trust, as well as sharing with them some of the challenges we are facing and I’ll be interested to hear their thoughts on some of these.

More to follow next week! In the meantime, you can follow me at @gavindhft 

All the best 

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