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March 2nd 2018

Gavin Boyle

I’d like to start this week’s blog by praising of all of my colleagues who’ve battled with the Beast from the East to make it into work.  I’ve heard lots of amazing stories about our people, both at London Road, here at Royal Derby, and in our out of hospital services too, where colleagues have gone to incredible lengths to make sure they’re here to keep the show on the road and our patients safe.  We’ve had colleagues bringing in overnight bags so that they could sleepover, safe in the knowledge that they’d be ready for their shift the next day.  I also heard a marvellous story from a patient whose community midwife had battled for an hour and a half to get to their home for an important visit.  Well done everyone – it’s at times like these that the real qualities of the marvellous people who work for our organisation really shine through.   

On that note, at Trust Delivery Group this week we received the headlines of our latest staff survey.  This is carried out independently of the Trust and unfortunately is embargoed until 6 March – so I can’t give too much away!  That said, the results are extremely encouraging and it’s good to know so many of our people enjoy working for us, even though at times it can be quite a challenging and pressurised place.  I’ll let you have a few more details next week and the full survey results will be on our website as soon as we can. Although the results are encouraging, we won’t be complacent either and we will want to talk to colleagues right across our hospitals to consider how this feedback will help us make DTHFT an even better place to work.

Now let’s return to one of my favourite subjects – yes, you’ve guessed it – robots!  In my last blog I told you all about Eric and Ernie, our new pharmacy robots, but this week at Trust Delivery Group we had an excellent discussion with some of our senior surgical leaders about robotic surgery here at Royal Derby Hospital.  We’re one of the few centres nationally to have a Da Vinci surgical robot, which is used by a number of specialities to perform surgical procedures here at the hospital.  Slightly disappointingly, the surgical robot is not a scalpel wielding Android but more a series of computer controlled arms capable of holding a variety of surgical instruments but controlled by a very human surgeon.  The benefit is that the robot is able to carry out operations with a degree of precision that not even the most skilled of human hands could achieve.  It also reduces the risks of fatigue, which can be a challenge for even the most experienced surgeon when performing complex or intricate procedures.  Over the last three years, we’ve carried out over 500 operations using the robot, with the vast majority being cancer cases, and significant benefits to patients achieved.  For example, nearly all of our complex prostate cancer operations are carried out by the robot and we’ve seen some great results with patients experiencing less blood loss, a lower need for pain relief, reduced complications and a shorter stay in hospital.  We also use the robot for colorectal surgery, gynaecology procedures and oral maxillofacial operations too.  This multi-speciality approach is at the heart of how we see the use of robotics developing at the hospital.  And this was really the focus of our conversation on Tuesday, which was to begin to think through how this technology might further develop within the Trust and become to a much greater extent an integral part of how we deliver good quality surgical care.  

Also at TDG we had Gareth Hughes, one of our ED consultants, who also does sterling work supporting our hospital out of hour’s team (HOoH) – this is a group of doctors, specialist nurses and health care assistants who deliver the general medical care to our inpatients overnight.  Blog readers will remember I spent a night with this team back in the summer to learn more about the important work that they do.  Gareth had come to TDG with a proposal to strengthen this team and received unanimous support.    

I’ve spent quite a bit of time in London over the last couple of weeks, all to do with the partnership with our neighbours in Burton.  Last week, I went along to meet with the Competition and Markets Authority to talk about the case and yesterday with other members of the proposed Board we met with national executives from NHS Improvement. I’ve been really heartened by how strong our proposal is, particularly in relation to improving patient care have been received by these regulators.  They are both formally considering our proposal at the moment and will tell us what they think later this month.  Following this, it’ll be down to the Board of Directors of both Trusts and both Councils of Governors to make the final decision.  For my part, I am as ever optimistic that we’ll be on track for our 1 April start for the new University Hospitals of Derby and Burton, and the real work will then begin to make the benefits for the communities we serve come to life.  It was a bit tricky getting back on the train last night because of the severe weather but there was a moment of comedy when our train halted in the middle of nowhere – not because of the snow – but because there was a balloon on the line – yes, really.

We got some great news last night, as our Patient Experience Team won the Team of the Year award at the National Patient Experience Awards.  Our beautiful bluebell sculptures outside entrance 24 were runners up too!  Fantastic!

I think the Beast will be with us for a couple of days yet so wrap up warm and thank you all once again for pulling out all the stops to keep our patients safe during an interesting week.  

Have a great weekend.


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