Gardens, green fingers & making improvements

All in the day of a Chief Exec of an integrated acute and community trust! I’m continuing to get out and about across the Trust as much as possible meeting new faces and finding out more about our fantastic services.

I recently had a fantastic morning visiting the rehab team based down at Corbett Outpatient Centre and they have some wonderful ideas about how to improve the services across the community, particularly focusing on admission avoidance. Service manager Frances Pons took the time to show me the fantastic balcony garden which opened last year, providing a really serene, calm place for people to sit and take in the great outdoors.

I went on a home visit with Chloe a Neuro Occupational Therapist and I observed her in action undertaking a comprehensive assessment with a new patient. She was so caring and compassionate and it was good to see holistic person-centred care in action.

So with so much good work being done by all our staff, it is disappointing to see our National Inpatient Survey results for 2016. We are nowhere near where we want to be, so this will be a key priority for us this year. Listening to patients’ experiences is an essential factor in improving the quality of patient care and developing the health and wellbeing of patients and the local community. The Trust has identified improving the patient experience of its services as a key strategic objective and has also included it as one of six quality priorities to be achieved in 2017/18.

The Trust’s patient experience strategy has been developed to demonstrate our commitment to continually improving patients’ experiences, with the aim of being amongst the top performers in the National Health Service.

Over the past three years, there has been a significant increase in patient feedback that the Trust has collected. Most of the feedback received has been positive; however, actions have been implemented to improve areas where patients have identified that their experience could have been better.

So the areas we really need to make improvements to make sure our patients’ have the best possible experience include making sure they have enough information and understand and feel involved in their own care. Hospital food could be better and staff helping people to eat could be improved. We have protected mealtimes so please make sure you adhere to those in your areas which allows nursing staff to help those that need it at mealtime. You need to make time for patients, explain things in a way they understand and make yourselves visible on the wards for families and carers to ask questions too.

The number one thing patients say we can improve is communication. Whether that is explaining the risks and benefits of a procedure, or simply introducing yourself every time you speak to a patient and tell them what you are going to do. Remember, a kind word or a smile can go a long way to reassuring someone who is fearful or upset.

We have lots of exciting things planned to help us improve patient experience and let you, our staff, shine. We will soon be launching some new interactive reminiscence software, a kind of distraction technology that should really help keep patients who inclined to get upset about their surroundings calm. It also allows families to engage with the person’s care, allowing people to record messages that can be played back to their loved one when they are unable to visit.

There is so much good work going on we just need to show people how much we care about their health and wellbeing so that they can feel it. A fantastic example of staff going the extra mile to make Dudley a great place to work are the doctors who have been fundamental in the Nervecentre project. Both Adnan Agha and Hammad Bajwa have shared their passion for patient care through dedication to the Nervecentre project which allows staff to task medics electronically during the night rather than relying on bleep holders. The system allocates tasks and allows for a much better tracking system throughout the hospital at night for our doctors and means nursing staff do not need to bleep doctors to see how their task is progressing – they can check that it has been accepted at the touch of a button.

My visit to the Continence Team

Continence Team visit

I had the pleasure of visiting our Continence team based at Brierley Hill Health and Social Care Centre. The team provide support and advice to patients with bladder or bowel incontinence and have a local and national profile for the excellent service they provide.

Why not join the team celebrating Continence Awareness Week from 19th – 25th June at the Health Hub in main reception at Russells Hall Hospital on Tuesday 20th June from 9am until 3pm where they will be giving out information and taking questions from staff, patients and visitors.

Check out the event on Facebook

Anyone would think it’s summer!

Well it’s definitely been a dreary start to the week weather wise,  but the same cannot be said of the staff I have met recently. Kick starting the week was a great session with staff over breakfast where people shared concerns over some service specific issues and also more general issues that we should be able to sort such as the phone book not being up to date.

Over the last couple of days I have shared my latest team brief, both at Brierley Hill and Russells Hall and I am encouraged by the amount of questions being asked and the feedback I am getting from you. The only way we can continue to make Dudley Group the very best place to work is if people are prepared to say what it is that concerns them and then more importantly are happy to be part of the solution. We are making head way with the IT niggles that community staff have had for some considerable time now which should see all staff with the Lenovo laptops truly ‘mobile’ within the next two months.

When I say I want to hear what it’s like I really do mean it and a few of you have already contacted me directly about issues and invited me to spend some time with their service, something which I particularly enjoy doing. I’ve spent time with Halesowen GPs and Moss Grove GPs which has been very informative and enlightening about what we can do as a Trust to help support our primary care colleagues.

I’ve also spent some time out on the wards most recently visiting ED, EAU, AEC and A2. The hard work and commitment is evident in bucket loads and I could really see the work that had been put in by staff in AEC following the recent quality and safety review. It is important that we use the process to make sure our services are the very best they can be and it was clear staff had taken on board the actions and delivered.

A huge thank you goes to all of our volunteers. There are over 450 people who willingly give their time for free to the Trust to help make our patients stay that little bit easier. They help patients find their way around the hospital, they provide support at the end of life to patients and their families and help wards and departments with anything they need to go that extra mile for patients. Your support is invaluable and is very much appreciated by all of us – Thank you. For those of you that missed our event there are some lovely pictures on facebook.

I am passionate about essential communication and keeping staff in the loop with news and also ensuring you are consulted and supported to deliver the very best care to our patients. Our patient feedback says we do not always get communication right with patients, their carers and families so we have more work to do to make sure we are all focused on making their experience as comfortable it can be. But first we need to make sure we are all communicating effectively with one another so please take my team brief and share it with your colleagues, it is also on the hub to download for anyone who couldn’t make it.


Cyber-attack response

The BBC reported that the cyber-attack over the weekend of 13th May infected 125,000 computer systems worldwide, and 48 NHS trusts were affected causing some to cancel operations.

Thanks to the rapid response of our IT services, we were not one of the trusts affected. Our IT staff worked through the night to ensure we, and other local trusts we provide IT services for, were not impacted by the cyber threat. They checked all our systems and undertook some maintenance work as a precaution.

One of the customers of our commercial IT arm Terafirma is Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust. Our Chief Information Officer Mark Stanton and his team received a well-deserved letter of thanks and appreciation from them.

Dr Kate Gingell, Joint Medical Director and Caldicott Guardian, and Mr Rupert Davies, Interim Director of Finance, Performance & IT and Trust Senior Information Risk Officer, praised Mark and his team for “responding rapidly and comprehensively” to deal with the issue.

Their letter also said:

“As a result of the actions taken by Terafirma the Trust’s core services – Oasis, shared folders and email services – were all protected.

“On behalf of the Trust, we are therefore writing to express our appreciation to Terafirma’s response and in particular to the dedication of your team over that specific weekend.”

On behalf of our Board of Directors, I would like to add my grateful thanks to Mark and his team for keeping our NHS services running smoothly with no impact on patient care.

We must keep in mind, however, the potential disruption to services of such cyber-attacks and remember that each and every member of staff has a responsibility for IT security.

Proud to care

Well, that was a weekend the NHS would rather forget as across the globe public and private sector organisations were hit by malicious ransomware causing chaos in many parts of the world. This included the NHS and several hospitals and GP practices have had to stop elective activity while they deal with the problem. Fortunately for us The Dudley Group was not infected by the virus but it did cause a huge impact on us as teams providing patient care had to react to the ever changing IT availability. 

I really am proud of how all teams pulled together to make sure patient care was not affected, a special mention to the IT team who worked tirelessly throughout the weekend to ensure all of our systems are safe and up to date and the communications team who worked to make sure people knew what was happening as it was happening. 

It serves as a timely reminder to us all to be extra vigilant with our emails and check we are confident who the sender is, are we expecting that email and generally taking care not to open files of attachments we wouldn’t expect. 

It was a shame that the exciting events that went on across community and hospital bases on Friday were somewhat overshadowed by the cyber attack. That didn’t stop the celebrations to thank you all and it is obvious how proud to care you all are. Over 3500 cakes and pieces of fruit were devoured and hundreds of ‘thankyou’s’ from both staff and patients were posted online and on the boards in main reception at RHH. I’d like to thank all those local businesses who donated either goods or money to make the day possible. 

Remember it’s not too late to send in your video saying why you love what you do to be In with a chance of winning one of the £20 prizes. Check out the hub for more info. Look at facebook page (search The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust) to see all the wonderful pictures and videos we captured.



Top Hospital award!

I am thrilled to be able to say that we have picked up a Top Hospital award at last night’s CHKS Top Hospital Award 2017. These annual awards celebrate achievement in healthcare and quality improvement and it is great to be recognised as a top performing trust. The event was hosted by independent health policy analyst, writer and broadcaster Roy Lilley and the guest speaker was the adventurer Sir Ranulph Feinnes Bt OBE, the oldest Britain to conquer Everest.

On Tuesday I took my Team Brief to Brierley Hill Health and Social Care Centre. I was impressed by the turnout and also by how engaged you are in the community. I have already had an invite and arranged to go meet with the community physiotherapy team. I am excited to see first-hand what we do in our physiotherapy and orthopaedic assessment service in the community.

It was useful to receive your feedback because it gives me the opportunity to help make a difference to your working environment. I’ll post updates on the progress on this blog so keep an eye out.

Today the executive and non-executive directors held one of our quarterly Board workshops. These informal meetings give us the chance to have strategic discussions. Today’s meeting looked at clinical strategy, planning for the future and annual Trust objectives.

As many of you know, tomorrow is International Nurses’ Day and we are using the day as an opportunity to thank all our staff, whether you work on the frontline or in the support roles, in hospital or out in the community. We really do appreciate all your hard work and commitment.

Why not pop down to the Health Hub at Russells Hall Hospital for a little treat and a face-to-face thank you. If you’re brave enough to say why you love what you do on video, it will be entered into a competition and the winners will receive shopping vouchers funded by members of the executive team.

If you can’t be there in person, check out our Facebook page for lots of lovely videos and photos.


Busy week out and about

Joanna Noble became the second person to ring the End of Treatment bell today. Joanna rang the bell to mark the end of her treatment alongside Chief Operating Officer Paul Bytheway outside C4 Georgina Day Case at Russells Hall Hospital. I was happy to be part of this significant occasion.

Matron Sara Davis took me to SAU and B5 and B6 and colorectal. It was impressive – the staff were highly informative and their expertise shone out. The wards looked tidy and the environment very clean.

I met the four elderly care consultants and discussed the vision for their service. They were compassionate and ambitious about improving and enhancing care for Dudley patients, whether they’re being treated in hospital or community, to avoid admission to hospital.

I went to the stroke ward and met consultants therapists and nursing staff. What a committed well led team, completely patient focused with evidence of great outcomes. It was a delight to visit.

Associate Chief Nurse Julie Walklate took me to CCU, the respiratory ward and ward C5. We popped into the Cath Labs and medical day case unit. I was impressed by the technology in the catch Lab and will be arranging a morning there to see the work first hand.

We also went to Medical HDU. We are very lucky to have this facility. Many other hospitals would be envious of this. I was delighted to see it and observe the care of some of the sickest acutely ill patients.

Great ideas? I’m all ears!

I held my very first ‘open to all’ CE Team Brief this morning in the Lecture Theatre at Russells Hall Hospital, and what a fantastic turnout! Thank you to everyone who took the time to come along. This is a great opportunity for me to meet staff from all areas of the Trust and for us to get to know each other.

The new style Team Brief is the place to be to discuss any burning issues, and for staff to ask questions and share ideas. I am really keen to learn more about the fabulous things they are doing for our patients.

I’ve been with the Trust just 25 days and I’ve already met some wonderful friendly people who’ve given me a very warm welcome. I want to get out and about and meet more teams; I have some exciting visits lined up for next week in clinical and non-clinical areas. Really keen to go to as many places as possible. If you’d like me to visit your area, let me know in the comments.

Interim Chief Nurse Siobhan Jordan has also been visiting clinical areas getting to know staff and the Trust. Siobhan is keen to help us deliver the best possible care for our patients and is also carrying out a staffing review to ensure we have the right people in the right place.

At our Trust Board meeting this week I saw a terrific presentation from the Urology team about their plans for the future including developing out specialist urology workforce.

I am holding a Team Brief next week at Brierley Hill Health and Social Care Centre for those staff who work in the community. I would encourage as many as possible to come along.


Consultants’ Conference 2017

I’ve spent today at our Annual Consultants’ Conference where senior doctors and surgeons from across the Trust, from a range of specialties, meet to discuss areas of interest such as workforce planning and plans for the future.

It’s been great to meet the clinicians that work on the front line to deliver outstanding care to our patients and hear about the fantastic services we provide. It’s also been really useful to understand more about where we have opportunities we can take advantage of and where we can, and must, improve going forward.

I met our own guardian of the galaxy, Mr Babar Elahi.    Copyright Marvel 2014

I had the pleasure to meet Mr Babar Elahi, our Guardian of Safe Working. What a motivated enthusiastic clinician who is genuinely committed to the health and wellbeing of our junior doctors in the work environment. He is very passionate about this role and his personal responsibilities.

Physicians Associate Adam Ryder spoke about the 350 physicians associates in the workforce in England which promoted discussion about how this role could be implemented more widely in Dudley. Nationally, this is being promoted to increase the use of this exciting and innovative role which adds stability to medical teams and has a broad knowledge of medicine in the face of hyper-specialisation. We have 12 physicians associates here in Dudley across medicine, emergency medicine and surgery. I look forward to meeting Adam again and seeing him in action in the Trust .

CPR in the park and awards anticipation

I’d like to wish Sarah Clarke, Kate O’Connor and Victoria Perry the best of luck for Thursday 27th April when they head down to London for this year’s Student Nursing Times Awards. The trio have been shortlisted in the ‘Educator of the Year’ category for their dedication to supporting and motivating student nurses on placement here in Dudley.

Their excellent work was further highlighted by a stream of supportive comments from former and existing students after the news was posted on Facebook.

Finalist Sarah Clarke was interviewed live on Black Country Radio’s breakfast show (102.5 FM or DAB radio) on Wednesday 26th April at 8.30am. If you missed her, you can listen again by clicking here.

Over the weekend our resuscitation officers and outreach team set up shop at Mary Stevens Park in Stourbridge to teach CPR to members of the public and West Mercia Scouts.

Well done to Bill Dainty, Sian Annakin, Ros Anslow and one of the resus team’s newest recruits Judy Benningfield for going above and beyond; giving up their own time to teach the public life-saving skills. You can follow the team on Twitter to keep up to date with what they’re up to: @resusdudley

Finally, we’ve received some fantastic feedback on Twitter from a patient who is tweeting her journey with us. @warpywefter has been sharing her story online – from pre-op, to HDU, to Ward B4 – and has had nothing but praise for the staff caring for her. Check out her tweets and follow her journey on Twitter. Well done to all those involved!