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September 16th 2016

Gavin Boyle
No day is the same in this job, and true to form Monday morning started in a most unusual way. One of the great things about our Trust is the focus on trying to meet our environmental responsibilities and improve our sustainability. We’ve won quite a few awards for this recently, especially our efforts to encourage staff to travel to work sustainably. We have been recognised with a Green Apple Award, and shortlisted for a National Transport Award for our Travel Plan. So when Laura from our Comms Team asked me to make a video to support this, I was happy to help. I’m always up for for trying something new, but I should have known it would involve cycling around on the old Brompton. Fortunately no Lycra was on display but if you were wondering what I was doing near the Breast Unit on Monday; that was it! On a serious note, the video is to support the re-launch of our Environmental Champions scheme, which sees staff learning about the sustainability work of the Trust and acting as environmental ambassadors in their wards and departments. If you’re interested in getting involved, contact our Transport and Sustainability Officer Andrea Shaw. 

Our junior medical colleagues have been on my mind this week and I’ve been reflecting on what a huge contribution they make to the life of our hospitals and the care of our patients. I was delighted this week to meet with Sam Thacker, one of our doctors who’s just taken up a new role within the Trust of Clinical Fellow in Leadership and Management. This fellowship allows doctors in training to develop their experience in a different way, in this case learning how doctors can contribute more to the leadership of the Trust. Sam will carry on with some of his clinical responsibilities during his fellowship, but it’s a good opportunity for him to develop a different set of skills. One of the things he was particularly keen to talk about was how we might better engage all our junior doctors in helping to improve the way we deliver services. Because they’re at the sharp end of care delivery, they often see things which could be done better and we need to find ways of translating these observations and a lot of ideas into actually improving how we deliver care. 

We also had a visit from a VIP this week. Professor Jane Dacre is the president of the Royal College of Physicians. Jane was here to meet some of our senior clinical leaders who are involved in the training and educating our junior docs. She was really impressed by what she found and was complimentary about the work we are doing here in training and developing the doctors of the future. It might sound a bit wacky, but to celebrate Jane’s visit we held a short story and poem competition for our juniors. It was fantastic to hear the winning entries by Muhammed Noor Uddin, Shahideh Safavi and Prarthana Thiagarajan. The subject was ‘medicine is brilliant’ and it was really heart-warming  to hear three very different perspectives on what it means to be a junior doctor. They were all fantastic, but I was particularly struck by the final verse in Prarthana’s poem ‘The Medical Registrar’s Hymn': 

“Sometimes it is not the glamour or the gore, It is not ‘saving lives’ or playing the hero once more, No, medicine affords something intangible and rare, It teaches true compassion; it lets me dare to really care.”


The highlight of my week – there’s always one! – was on Thursday when I accompanied our Medical Director Nigel – or Dr. Sturrock when he’s wearing his stethoscope – on his ward round. It was lovely to see a close colleague in a role so different to the one I’m used to seeing him in. I was impressed by his concern for the patients, his thoroughness, and in particular his bedside manner. He always listened and was incredibly kind. I was also struck by the complexity of the patients we saw and the work that needed to be done to confirm a diagnosis. We were accompanied on the ward round by Pete, one of our middle-grade doctors, who had the task of translating the plans that Nigel developed into the necessary tests, investigations and treatments that the patient needed. Lots to do!

One thing which stayed with me after the ward round was the fact that the patients we were seeing were so much more than the health issues they presented with. Every patient who comes through our doors is a real person, with real concerns and all the complexities of day-to-day life that we all share, but rudely interrupted by a sudden ill health. One man we spoke to was concerned that he should be well enough to go home for a family party this weekend; another poor lady was in hospital on the day of a close family member’s funeral. We tend to focus on our patients’ clinical conditions and how we can help them recover their health, but it reminded me we must always see our patients as people just like us with busy lives, hopes and fears too. 

This has been a special week for the Children’s Hospital. It’s two decades since the hospital moved to this site from the old North Street hospital, and we’ve had lots of events taking place to mark the occasion. Sorry I missed the tea party this afternoon! Only just but will do better! There was a ‘Tweetathon’ looking at 24 hours in our Children’s Hospital, where 24 staff members told us about a day in their lives. If you’re interested, you can find out more about it at: http://superhospital.co.uk/recruitment/departments/childrens-hospital/ 

Have a great weekend. 

All the best,

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