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May 19th 2017

Gavin Boyle

It’s been an interesting week! Ironically, as I was writing last week’s blog – extolling the benefits to patients of the information and digital revolution - the infamous ‘cyber attack’ was just rearing its ugly head. Now, as a Trust we take cyber security extremely seriously and I’m pleased to say that we were not affected by the virus. However, I’d like to praise our IT team, who worked so hard over that weekend to take additional precautions and as part of this work extra anti-viral software was applied to all of our systems.  In the digital age this isn’t a threat that’s going to go away and so we need to be ever vigilant to keep our systems secure and give our patients the benefit that this technology undoubtedly brings.  More excitement coming up….

One of the highlights of my week was attending an event organised by the British Deaf Association to talk about their experience of our services. A while ago now the Trust signed up to the British Sign Language Charter and made a range of commitments to improve the way we provide access to our services for this community.  It was really pleasing to meet so many service users with a hearing loss, who kindly acknowledged the progress that had been made in recent times at the Trust. However, it was clear to me that there was a lot more that we could do to improve experience of our deaf patients.  A particular area we talked about was access to emergency services in our A&E. Obviously a trip to the hospital in an emergency is stressful for anyone, but accessibility issues can compound this. I was really pleased to see a number of our A&E team at this event talking to deaf people about how we can improve things. Amongst them was Dr Elizabeth Bateman who I mentioned a couple of blogs back, one of our newer A&E consultants who’s also fluent in BSL and has a particular interest in this. I’m certain this is one team that will be making some huge strides in improving care for our deaf service users.

On Tuesday night we had our regular Council of Governors meetings - always one of the high spots of the month and as usual there were lots of challenging questions.  It was a bit of a sad occasion in that Roland Fitzgerald, one of our longest-serving governors, was there for the last time, having served his full nine years. Roland has always been ready with an insightful and erudite question or comment and we’ll miss him at the Council, but at 92, I think he deserves to take it a little easier too!  We had a fantastic presentation from Laura Waters about the Air Arts programme which is now into its tenth year. Laura was telling us about some of the plans for the coming year, in which she hopes to do more to use art to promote well-being and create a better environment for patients and staff alike.  I think this is an absolutely brilliant programme and it makes a real difference to life in our Trust. I’m looking forward to later in the year when we’ll have our second art exhibition for staff. Last year’s was marvellous – it’s amazing to think that there are so many talented artists amongst my colleagues.

Sometimes life can be a bit too exciting, like on Wednesday night, when we had another behind the scenes challenge – a power outage in the supply to our Children’s Hospital. This was caused by a failure of one of the main underground cables which connects the hospital to the National Grid.  Again, I’m pleased to say that everyone rallied round and the contingency plans we have in place to manage this sort of incident worked well.  There was no disruption to service and no patients were affected. Over the weekend our people will be beavering away to put in place the permanent fix. Well done to the Children’s Hospital team, our Facilities heroes and our partners from Skanska for managing this situation swiftly and effectively.

They say problems come in threes, so on Thursday we also had a technical issue in our Imaging department. But never fear, as Dave Tipper, Deputy General Manager for Imaging, and his team were on it, and they soon had the problem resolved. Well done to the team for going the extra mile for our patients. 

Now, thankfully, weeks like this are rare – all the checking and preventative work we do behind the scenes helps to make these challenges few and far between. But hospitals are massively complex with all manner of interrelated systems and sometimes things don’t always work as they should. That said, I suspect that the vast majority of our patients were oblivious to these issues thanks to the preparation and calm, professional response of all our teams.

I’d particularly like to praise our ever-ready Chief Operating Officer Sharon, who with the Operations Team was at the heart of coordinating our response to each of this week’s three challenges. Well done!

One of the things that has been brought home to me this week more than ever is the commitment and resilience of NHS staff. No matter what the challenge, there seems an endless capacity for people to rally round and go the extra mile to make sure our services continue and our patients are safe.  This calm response may not be the stuff of an exciting TV hospital drama but I for one can live with that!

Have a great weekend.


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