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September 29th 2017

Gavin Boyle

You can call me a slacker but I like nothing better than to escape from the office and the seemingly endless meetings to spend a bit of time with colleagues on the frontline looking after our patients. So it was a pleasure this week to spend a morning in the Medical Assessment Unit at the front of the hospital with Matron Julie Campbell, Sister Dawn Wilkinson, Roger Stanworth, who is one of our Acute Physicians, and Gayle Cornes, from the Management Team in Medicine. 

Firstly, I was bowled over by their infectious enthusiasm and the creative way they approach some of their challenges. The MAU is part of our emergency service and it takes referrals from the emergency department and also directly from GPs out in the community. Its function is to provide initial assessment and treatment, particularly for those patients who might require hospital admission. As you can imagine, it is extremely busy and receives patients who are often some of the most poorly. 

One of the services that they’ve developed is the Ambulatory Care Centre, which seeks to provide assessments and treatment, but in a way that for some patients means we can avoid admission. This is good news for patients but also helps to keep our hospital beds for those who need them most. I was particularly impressed by the work they’ve done to improve recruitment and retention of nursing and other clinical staff in this high pressured area. They have put in place additional opportunities for education and training which is particularly attractive for new colleagues to come and join the unit. They’ve also put in place a whole programme of health and well-being activities, things like Indian Head Massage and Yoga that staff can access. Now, that might seem a bit whacky but it is a very busy and stressful environment and anything we can do to help support colleagues is a good thing. A sustainable workforce helps us to build a team spirit and deliver better care, which has got to be good news for patients.

Roger was in the limelight again this week when he came along to the Trust Delivery Group to update us all on our Red2Green programme. Just to remind you, Red2Green is all about how we value patients’ time and avoid unnecessary days spent in hospital. Lots of great work has been done, including the development of ward based Discharge Support Officers to really make sure that every day a patient spends in hospital is adding some value to their care and moving them one day closer to home. This is particularly timely because as we head towards winter we are planning very carefully to ensure that we provide a good service over what is traditionally a high pressured time. Red2Green will help us but we also need to make sure that we have sufficient beds and staff in place to deliver a good quality and safe service. But it is not just the hospitals; it needs to be a whole health system working together. 

And with that in mind, at the Derbyshire A&E Delivery Board on Thursday, every partner organisation provided an update on what they’re doing to rise to this challenge. We’re keen to put in place a joined up plan and include contributions from our local authority colleagues, the ambulance service, primary care, community services and the mental health trust, just to name a few. We had an update from Dr Robyn Dewis, one of the Public Health Physicians from Derby City, who shared some data from the southern hemisphere about influenza in Australia during their winter, which is often a good indicator of what might happen here. The Aussies have seen a big increase in Flu this year and if this comes our way it will be more important than ever to have a strong joined up plan. I say it every year but one of the perks of being a healthcare worker is that you get a free Flu jab! We have started our campaign this week in the Trust, so I would encourage every colleague to take advantage of this to protect themselves, their families and patients too. We are aiming for at least 75% of all our staff to be vaccinated and the good news from Robyn is that the vaccine this year is a good match for the strains of Flu that we are expecting and so it should offer good protection.

Being accountable to the local community is really important and one of the ways that we do this as a foundation trust is to hold an Annual Members Meeting, where we give an update on what we have achieved over the past year in terms of service delivery, quality and finance, as well as having the opportunity to showcase some of the great work delivered by our teams in supporting our aim to deliver fantastic care and achieve our PRIDE ambitions. We had some excellent questions from the public and I think we are blessed with some extremely erudite and well informed members. One of the key focuses was on the principal challenge facing the NHS, which is how do you balance the need to provide good access to local services of a high standard but within the reality of constrained public finances? We had a real debate and you won’t be surprised that we didn’t find a simple answer but it was a good discussion. I was greatly heartened by the appreciation shown by our members for the work that we do to plot the best course possible through these competing challenges for the benefit of our patients.

One of the great things about my job is meeting up with new consultants shortly after they start in their new role and it was a pleasure to meet with Nikolay Yanev, who is a consultant in MaxilloFacial surgery. This is one of our flag ship specialised services delivering the major facial re-construction, particularly for patients who have suffered from Cancer. It can involve major surgery, including grafting of skin and bones from other parts of the body. Nikolay has been with us for about six months and he told me how pleased he was to be working here in Derby, having worked in a number of prestigious cultures across the country. We’re very proud of this service here in Derby and Nikolay was keen to come here to develop his career with us. Interestingly though, he also splits his time between here and his native Bulgaria, where he is trying to apply some of the skills and knowledge he has learned in Derby to help develop a service in Sofia. He is an inspirational young surgeon and a welcome addition to the DTHFT family. I was amazed by his energy and enthusiasm, to be not only part of the Trust here but to also pioneer the development of the service in another part of Europe. It puts my daily Brompton and train commute into perspective. 

Phew, what a week! Have a great weekend

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