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November 25th 2016

Gavin Boyle

Up the revolution! I am of course referring to the ‘Outpatient Revolution’ at our hospitals. Since the beginning of the year we’ve been listening to our patients and staff about how we could radically change the way we deliver this important part of our service. There are now a whole raft of teams working on lots of innovative ideas to do just that, to deliver better services, more consistently, more efficiently and in a way which is more convenient for the people who use them. 

I went along to a marketplace event on Thursday where the project leaders, under the guidance of Becky Sutton, programme manager in our Transformation team, were showcasing some of their work. It was an opportunity for staff, particularly for those in outpatient services and departments, to come and see how some of these might help them improve their own service.

The sorts of things on display were the innovative use of email instead of paper appointment letters, using voice recognition technology to streamline how reports and letters are produced following a clinic attendance, using alternative approaches to the consultation itself such as telephone, or Skype; as well as quick access to translation services for patients for whom English is not their first language, and lots, lots more. It was a great example of what I was talking about last week, which is how so many colleagues in the Trust are keen to take a leadership role and get involved with finding solutions.

This takes me back to the beginning of my week when on Monday morning I dropped in to see Nigel, our Executive Medical Director, who was having a catch up with Sam Thacker our leadership and management fellow. You might remember I have mentioned Sam before; he is one of our junior medical colleagues who has also taken on a fellowship to get involved in service improvement and leadership activities in the Trust. It was great to hear the sorts of things he’s now getting involved in, particularly about how we can better engage our doctors in training and in helping us to improve our services to make them better for patients and also more satisfying for our colleagues. 

Talking of people with a passion to make a difference – I met up this week with Sue Abdulla, our Lead Dementia Nurse who is working to improve our care for patients with dementia. This is an increasingly important part of responsibility as a Trust and something in which I have a particular interest. Sue gave me an update on the work we are doing to improve clinical pathways to provide better care for dementia sufferers and also told me more about how we’re increasing staff training and even changing the physical environment within the Trust. Some examples were using contrasting colour schemes and textures to distinguish parts of the ward to help to make it easier for patients to find their way around and providing more pictorial signs which are clearer and easier to understand. 

I am always impressed by Sue, who is someone who has a real passion for what she does and is clearly on a mission to make a difference. More power to her elbow! 

Blog readers might remember a few weeks back that I mentioned the ‘randomised coffee trial’ on NHS Change Day, which was taken up by colleagues from all parts of our hospitals. I was lucky enough to meet Simone, one of our speech and language therapists, who then mentioned in passing that I might like to meet the team. So on Wednesday I went along to meet Rosemary Cunningham, the head of the speech and language therapy service, based at RDH, as well as some members of her team. Interestingly the team are actually employed by the community trust but are absolutely part of the DTHFT family and deliver an invaluable service. Rosemary and I reflected on how this is perhaps increasingly the shape of things to come as we begin to work more closely as a health and social care system – I think it will increasingly matter less which organisation employs you and will instead be rather more about who you work with, what you do and your contribution to the team. 

It was lovely to catch up with Rosemary and her team, not least of which because she got me my favourite biscuits, Viennese whirls!

You won’t be surprised to learn that this week has been ‘a busy one’! This was particularly because we had to submit a draft of our operational plan for the next two years to NHS Improvement on Thursday. This year the planning process has come forward a few months and so a lot of effort was concertinaed into some very tight timetables. I’d like to thank everyone who contributed to a considerable task, Ali McCaul, Kendre Chiles, Lela Parojcic and Scott Jarvis from Finance, as well as Mo Hussain from Business Development & Transformation, who did the words! But seriously, quite a herculean task and an important one in terms of helping us ensure we’re making the right plans for the next two years aimed at delivering our PRIDE ambitions to make the Trust a better place for patients and a better place for our people. 

Can’t resist squeezing a couple of commercials! If you haven’t yet filled in your NHS national staff survey yet please do – tell it like it is – so we can make this a better place to work. Survey closes 2 December. And lastly – flu jab! You know it makes sense – ‘because you’re worth it’!

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