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October 21st 2016

Gavin Boyle
This week was so jam-packed with good stuff it’s hard to know where to start – so to make it easier, let’s go for Monday morning. 

Mrs Farmer from St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School contacted me a few weeks ago (after reading this very blog!) to ask whether anyone from the Trust would be prepared to come and talk about the development of hospitals in Derby for a history project she was doing with her five and six-year-olds, which included a focus on our very own Florence Nightingale. Apprehensive at the prospect of facing the class alone, I was ably supported by Paul Brooks, our Associate Director of Facilities. Now, if you’re struggling to find an entertainer for your next children’s party, then Paul is definitely your man – he was incredible! He had produced a brilliant presentation about the history of hospitals in Derby which the children really enjoyed. The best bit was a time-lapse film of the demolition of the big tower block at the DRI. Knocking stuff down – the kids loved it!

Speaking of Florence Nightingale, I first came across Louise Hill, the chairman of the Derby Hospitals Choir, at our annual commemorative Florence Nightingale service in the spring. I was bowled over at the event by the choir’s moving performance of Ave Maria. Louise popped in for a coffee to tell me about the group’s next event – their annual carol concert at Derby Cathedral. The event is on 2 December, and tickets, costing £15, are available from Foulds in Derby or from our Cashier’s office. The choir has more than 100 members, many of whom are current or former employees of the Trust, but also other health professionals, including a couple of GPs. She told me they begin their rehearsals about now, and have just 13 weeks to prepare for the big performance. I’m sure it will be fabulous. This year they’re raising funds to buy two tandem buggies to help some of our less mobile patients get around the Royal Derby Hospital. They are selling tickets for a grand prize draw, so look out for them around the hospital and support them if you can.  

Tuesday night was our Council of Governors meeting – they certainly don’t hold back on holding us to account, which is a good thing. We talked about some of the challenges facing the hospital at the moment, and particularly about our growing partnership with Burton Hospitals.  The governors are quite naturally very interested in this work, and, I think they can see the potential opportunities for both Trusts. We also had a presentation from – yes, you guessed it, it’s that man again! – Paul Brooks, on our annual inpatient survey. It was really heartening to hear that we have seen improved responses in so many areas since last year. It feels like we’re heading in the right direction, but there’s still work to do to make our Trust an even better place for patients. 

Wednesday was NHS Fab Change Day, which celebrates innovation and improvement, and we had two great things happening to mark the occasion. The first was a Randomised Coffee Trial, which was an opportunity for any member of staff to come and have a coffee and a chat with the members of our executive team. I know the execs really enjoyed it, and many have said to me it was the best thing they did all week. I had three great conversations. The first was with Simone, a Speech and Language Therapist who actually works for another Trust – Derbyshire Community Health Services. She was telling me how passionate she was about being part of the Trust team, and I thought that was just great. As we increasingly develop partnerships with other organisations I think this is something we will see more of. In some ways it doesn’t really matter who you work for, it’s the contribution you make to your team and the way you work together to deliver great care to our patients which counts. I met with Rachel Jerram and Amy Brinklow, who told me all about something new we’re planning – Schwartz Rounds. The idea behind this is to recognise that the people who deliver care to our patients can sometimes be affected by their work. Delivering healthcare can be really tough sometimes, and the Schwartz Rounds exist to provide support for healthcare workers when that happens. Finally, I met Cathryn James, who is one of our Clinical Librarians. I have to say I now know 100 per cent more about CLs than I did before. Their role is to support our clinicians when they need information about a particular condition. All our patients are individuals, and sometimes have rare and complex conditions. The CLs are experts in tracking down the latest information about these conditions so the clinicians can have the necessary research evidence at their fingertips when they need it. 

The other thing we tried for Fab Change Day was to try something called Red2Green. It’s a simple idea where red indicates a day that a patient spends in hospital when nothing particularly useful is happening. A green day is when we’re helping to move their care forward, getting them closer to going home. You may think every day should be a green day, but the fact is that it’s not always the case. This is all part of our focus on making sure patients don’t stay in hospital any longer than they need to – after all, who wants to be in hospital a day longer than necessary? By reducing the length of people’s stay, it also releases space for the next person who needs our care. 

Roughly two-thirds of the patients in the hospital on Wednesday were having green days, which means a third were waiting for something to progress their care. Some of that was as a result of waiting for services outside of the hospital, but some of it was due to internal things that we can fix ourselves, such as waiting for consultant review, imaging etc. We’re now going to be looking closely at what we can do to improve this. 

Last but not least I was delighted to be invited by Dr Rita Dua, who is one of our Senior Consultant Anaesthetists, to meet with her and her colleagues. They were a smashing bunch with lots of really great questions about some of the challenges they are facing, such as workforce, finances and the ever-increasing demand. It was a pleasure to meet such an important group of clinicians who support not only our surgical services but also paediatrics, obstetrics, critical care and much more. They really do run a back bone clinical service. 

All in all it’s been a really interesting mix of a week, which just goes to prove I must have the best job in the world. On that note, I’m looking forward to next week, when we’ve got a special celebration coming up – the official presentation of the Queen’s Award to our volunteers. I’ll let you know how it goes next week. 

Have a great weekend!

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