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December 22nd 2017

Gavin Boyle

With Christmas just around the corner, we’ve had lots of festive fun at the Trust this week. Before we get to that though, let’s focus on some of the more serious stuff. Winter has been a big feature of life at the hospital over the last few weeks.  We’ve seen a big increase in the numbers of patients attending as an emergency and then requiring admission.  We always expect to be busier during winter but this year it feels that it’s come a little bit earlier than usual.  In the first part of December, we saw about 10% more admissions than at the same period last year.  That’s about an extra 100 admissions over the last 2 or 3 weeks.  As ever, I’m hugely grateful to all of our teams who have worked so hard to manage this and make sure we continue to deliver safe care.  So many people play an important part in meeting this demand, including the clinical teams at the ‘front door’ in areas such as the Emergency Department, Medical and Surgical Assessment Units, those in the base wards and support services including therapies, imaging, pathology, pharmacy, and many more.  Not to mention the increased burden on our housekeeping, portering and admin teams too.  Running a hospital is the ultimate team effort and I’m always impressed by how everyone seems to pull together during these challenging times.  

We have a good plan in place to meet the anticipated demand but we’ve needed to bring this forward this year and we’ve also done some additional things too.  At the end of last week, we took the decision to pause planned Orthopaedic work this week to create more space for emergency medical and elderly patients and maintain our cancer surgery.  I met with the clinical and admin team for Orthopaedics this week to discuss the impact of that decision and how we could make the best of a challenging situation.  I was so impressed by how understanding they were of the need to prioritise emergencies and urgent cancer patients above planned work.  It was important for me though to hear the challenges this presented to the surgical and ward teams but also to my admin colleagues who had the unenviable job of talking to disappointed patients and working through the rescheduling of lost activity.  This is never something we would do lightly but I’m sure most people would understand the need to prioritise emergencies and cancer patients in this way.  

In other news, we had a great session on Tuesday morning at London Road Community Hospital where we invited both staff and members of the public to come along and hear more about our merger plans with Burton Hospitals.  It was a double act with me and Dr Magnus Harrison, who is the Medical Director at Burton Hospitals Foundation Trust.  It was a good opportunity to bring people up to speed with some of the details of our plans and particularly the clinical benefits to improve patient care and make our services better and more sustainable – after all this is what the plan is all about.  We had some good questions from the public and generally the proposals were met with a positive response.  People were particularly interested in some of the emerging clinical models and Magnus was able to explain these in some detail. For example, for cardiology services; forming a single department covering the Royal Derby Hospital and Queens Hospital Burton would allow more procedures to be undertaken locally in Burton, which at the same time would release capacity in the cardiac catheter labs here in Derby to develop our highly specialised cardiac devices service. It’s a win-win!  

There’s been so much happening in the hospital this week to have a bit of fun both for our patients and staff too.  It’s always a highlight of my year judging the annual ‘Best Dressed Ward and Department’ competition.  This year, we had a record breaking 50 entries and colleagues had gone to incredible efforts to really brighten the hospitals up and spread a bit of Christmas spirit.  Judging was a tough task and the honours were shared between myself, Cathy Winfield, our Chief Nurse, Dr Nigel Sturrock, our Medical Director, and Lorna Priestman, from the MDs office.  Ward 301 took the prize for best dressed ward for their Polar Express inspired extravaganza, although I’m sure that the random inclusion of a life size cut out of Tom Hardy was certainly a big influence on some of our judges!  The Endoscopy team won the prize for the best dressed department and I was bowled over by the amazing enthusiasm of Andrea Stafford, Assistant Practitioner.  I particularly liked the remembrance tree which gave staff and patients the opportunity for a quieter reflection on loved ones no longer with us. Although Christmas can be a fun time, it’s also a good time to think about those things which matter most.  The runner up prize went to the Renal Unit with their amazing recycled igloo.  There were so many great entries and it’d be invidious to pick out just one or two but needless to say the spirit and enthusiasm that so many colleagues put into this year’s event was really uplifting.

One of the things about hospitals is our work never stops.  And whilst in many walks of life people will be looking forward to having a few days off and putting work behind them, we know that that’s not an option for so many of us.  I’d like to take the opportunity to pay tribute to all of my colleagues who will be here working over the Christmas period delivering great care and keeping our patients safe.   However, I hope that everybody at least finds a little bit of time to kick back and enjoy some time with their families and friends.  

So whether you’re at work over Christmas or at home, I hope it’s a good one and I’ll see you next week!



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