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January 19th 2018

Gavin Boyle

So, it’s been another jam packed week, with Winter Pressures, Flu and a Board Meeting too! But before I get into all of that, I just wanted to mention a couple of brilliant “out and about visits” I made recently and apologise for not having mentioned them before in the blog! The first one was just after Christmas when I met with Kerry Than, who leads the Patient Advice and Liaison Service, the Complaints Team and Bereavement Service too. Kerry and her team are unsung heroes in the Trust and often are faced with supporting patients and families at a time when they may be at their most vulnerable, frustrated and even angry with their experience of our service. One of the things that I think Kerry’s team do so well is not only listening to the patients but also being their advocate to make sure whatever concerns they have are properly addressed. But it’s more than that; it’s also about how that information can be fed into our quality and improvement processes to make things better for future patients. One of the things I do as part of my role is to read all of our responses to any complaints we receive and to sign a letter of apology – I believe if someone has felt it necessary to raise a concern, it is good enough grounds for an apology on its own. I am always impressed by the care and attention of colleagues investigating patient concerns, through the careful way that they seek to respond to every issue raised and also to identify actions that can be taken to improve their service.  Slightly alarmingly, Kerry keeps a chart on her wall which tracks those complaints that are awaiting my attention and signature, so she certainly keeps an eye on me and whether I am doing my bit!  

I also had a terrific visit last week with David Tipper, who leads our imaging team here at DTHFT. Radiology really is a bedrock service for the Trust and just about every other service relies on it to do its own job. I think we are hugely fortunate here at DTHFT to have such a high quality Radiology service, which is one of only a few nationally to have full ISAS accreditation. It’s a complex service which includes so many different modalities – x-ray, ultrasound, CT, MRI, Nuclear Medicine and our Breast Screening service too. I was greatly impressed by the enthusiasm of his team but also at the standards of equipment that we have at the Trust. As you can imagine, this is a real ‘state of the art’ service and I was pleased to see that, despite the financial pressures, we’ve been able to keep pace with technology and continue to invest to make sure our service has some of the most up to date equipment. 

We hit a milestone this week in our partnership with Burton Hospitals when we began the formal 40 day review phase  by the Competition and Market Authority (oh yes!). In parallel, NHSI are also reviewing our draft Business Case for the merger and this should all come together in the middle of March when we will know what both regulators will think. Following this, the Boards and Council of Governors from both Trusts will consider the case and make a decision. Hopefully, all being well, we are still on track for forming the new organisation from 1 April.

One of the things I like about our Public Board meeting is that we always start them in the same way. Firstly, we have the Pride of Derby Awards which acknowledges some of our amazing people who’ve gone the extra mile, either for their colleagues or our patients. We then move on to a patient story, where we hear about a particular experience, which is sometimes good and sometimes not so good, that causes us to reflect on why we are all here. It seems to me that thinking about our people and thinking about our patients is just the right mind-set for us to have as we tackle the decisions we need to take as a Board. 

This week’s Pride of Derby Awards was a bit different. Occasionally we have a special Chairman’s and Chief Executives Award but on this occasion we had two! Firstly, we wanted to acknowledge the fantastic work that’s been done in our cancer services over the last year to redesign all of our patients’ pathways, put in place additional capacity and make our processes as efficient as possible to make sure our patients get timely care. There are nine national time-based standards in relation to cancer care – unfortunately the NHS has really struggled with these over the last couple of years and has not managed to deliver them all. However, in October DTHFT delivered all nine – most importantly the 62 days target. This means that any patient referred to us with a suspected cancer has all of the necessary diagnostics and planning so they can begin their treatment within 62 days. This is a fantastic achievement. I’m sure you can imagine that timely care is so important to patients with suspected cancer. So many parts of the hospital were involved in achieving this but we did make a particular mention of our Imagining and Urology services, who have done so much to make it possible.    

Next up, we celebrated all our colleagues helping to deliver good care for our emergency patients at this time of particular pressure. Naturally, this included colleagues from ‘front door’ areas such as ED and MAU, but also throughout the Trust, including our base wards and also London Road, who’ve made additional capacity available this winter. They’ve all done a fantastic job!

Just finishing off on our Pride of Derby Awards, the latest colleagues who were chosen as exemplars of our CARE values were:

Charlotte Smith, ED Nurse – Best Frontline Member of Staff 

Jo Seaton, Patient Flow Manager – Best Inspirational Leader 

Discharge Lounge team – Best Team

Each one of these winners, in very different ways, had shown how they had gone the extra mile for our patients. It’s always an inspiration to meet them, so please remember to take the opportunity to nominate your colleagues who you’ve seen doing something extra special. 

Despite the winter pressures, the Hospital continues to provide good care for our emergencies. I was pleased this week when colleagues from the Ambulance service complimented the Trust on how we’d maintained rapid handover of patients from their crews. It was also a pleasure this morning when we had our monthly performance meeting with NHSI, our regulator, who also acknowledged how well the Trust had performed relative to other parts of the system – particular given the scale and complexity of the service we provide.

Over the last couple of weeks, we have started to see an increase of patients with Flu and I suspect this will reach its peak over the next couple of weeks. This is an additional pressure and our infection control teams are working flat out to make sure we manage this as well as possible and seek to keep all of our patients safe. Well over 70% of our staff have now been vaccinated against flu but if you have not yet had your jab, there is still plenty of time and it will still protect you this winter. Look on Flo for the details. The Flu jab might be the one and only perk of working for the NHS! So, go ahead, what are you waiting for?

So, all in all, it’s been a pretty jam-packed week with lots to celebrate too, alongside the fact that we continue to be a very busy couple of Hospitals indeed.


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