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December 1st 2017

Gavin Boyle

I was away at the end of last week, so apologies for the missing blog.  I can’t even begin to imagine your disappointment!  There was a lot going on as usual but I just want to mention a couple of highlights. Firstly, I’ve talked before about something called Schwartz Rounds, which is an idea that’s being pioneered by one of our senior surgeons, Gill Tierney. It’s an opportunity for clinical and non-clinical colleagues from different parts of the Trust to come together and discuss some of the personal and sometimes emotional aspects of working in a high-pressured environment.  There’s usually a theme and a small panel are invited to share their own stories to stimulate a wider discussion with the rest of the group.  This time around, I was asked to be on the panel with 3 other senior clinical colleagues.  The theme was ‘when your best doesn’t feel good enough’ and each panel member told an incredibly moving personal story that reflected their different professional backgrounds.  It was particularly relevant for me because sometimes it feels like a permanent state of affairs, as in my role you seek to balance a personal commitment to deliver a high quality service in the face of ever increasing demand – and to be frank, not as much cash as I would like.  I’d love to share with you the extremely powerful stories of the panel members but I can’t – it’s all confidential you see!  But DTHFT colleagues please look out for the next Schwartz Round and get along if you can.  All of us are facing our own challenges day in, day out as we try to do the best for our patients and it’s good sometimes to know you’re not alone.  

Also, last week I was invited along to speak at a national conference – something I don’t do very often – to share some of the work that we’re doing in the Trust with digital barcode technology as part of the Scan 4 Safety programme.  Also speaking was Andrew Goddard, who is one of our consultants in gastroenterology, about how he was using this technology to collect data to help improve safety in endoscopy.  Keith Jones, our Clinical Director for Surgery and Oral-Maxillofacial Surgeon, also described how this technology was helping to improve how our operating theatres work and to make them safer.  Our Finance Director, Kevin, who’s a real ambassador for this work, also came along and we were surprised by the incredibly positive response from national and international colleagues regarding the pioneering work being done here.  I got a little bit over excited and picked up a challenge to see how we could use this technology to reduce clinical errors. Every year in England there are about 400 serious clinical errors which we call ‘never events’ – about 80% of these are due to human error during checking processes, for example, have we got the right patient, the right drug, the right dose etc.  Human beings are not terribly good at checking detail – a sad fact but true – however computers happen to be very good at this and part of the challenge is how we use this technology to get our computer systems to communicate in the moment, as part of the treatment process, to eliminate such errors.  Over the next 12 months, we’ll turn our attention to seeing whether we can crack this particular nut here in Derby, which is a challenge for health care systems all over the world.

Sticking with patient safety – Gaz, one of our charge nurses in ED, invited me down to the department to hear all about the work they’re doing on sepsis.  This is a life threatening blood stream infection and the NHS is committed to improving its detection and treatment and our ED team are really blazing a trail on this. They’ve introduced a simple 3 question check list to identify patients at risk and have adopted something called the Sepsis 6, which are the 6 treatment steps that should then be taken. To support this, they’ve designed their own sepsis trolley, which has 6 drawers – one for each step – which contains all of the consumables, antibiotics etc that you’ll need to give the right treatment.  It’s simple but effective, so well done ED!

I like to get out and about into some of the less obvious nooks of the organisation and it was a pleasure to meet up with Mic Heaton and his team this week down in the hospital library.  This is a fantastic facility if you’ve never visited it. It’s available to all staff and particularly if you’re studying for a qualification, doing some research or indeed just looking for a comfy place to come during your break to surf the net using the library’s own internet café.  It was great to catch up with our clinical librarians, Lisa, Catherine and Lindsay. I’ve mentioned them before in the blog when I had a coffee and a chat with Catherine last year. They’ve got a really interesting job using their skills to find the most up to date published research evidence to help advise our clinical teams on the very latest and best ways to treat our patients.  I was also mightily impressed by the work that Caroline, Mic’s deputy, and Karen and colleagues had done to create a ‘library’ of dementia resources – like memory boxes containing all sorts of things, such as books, old photographs, and music: everything that might help one of our dementia patients to reminisce and to help reconnect them with their own past.  All wards and departments are able to loan the resources and I thought this was a fabulous re-imagination of what a library could be.  

So, to finish a busy couple of weeks, I was off first thing to Stafford – over the frosty hills – to meet with the Healthy Staffordshire Select Committee of Staffordshire County Council. It was a double act, with Magnus Harrison, the Medical Director from Burton, to give an update on our merger plans.  We particularly focussed on the emerging patient benefits that are really beginning to crystallise.  It was a good discussion with some very searching questions but I was pleased that the very many potential positive benefits were heard and understood.

I can’t believe its December already!  Good luck to everyone entering the best dressed Christmas ward and department – me and Cathy, our Chief Nurse, will be doing the judging honours on 20th December. Last year, there some amazing entries that went from the beautiful and tasteful to the downright strange.  Part of me particularly enjoys the latter!  Go for it!

Have a great weekend.    


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