This week the Trust has announced that Trish Armstrong-Child will be the new Chief Executive and will take up the role when I leave to join Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in September.
I was part of the robust and thorough recruitment and assessment process carried out over recent weeks leading up to Trish’s appointment. I have no doubt she will be a strong and inspiring new leader, not just for the organisation but within Blackpool and the Fylde Coast as a whole.
I want to congratulate Trish and wish her well – this job is a brilliant, challenging but amazing thing to do. Blackpool has such a special part in people’s hearts, most have fond memories and emotional ties to it as a place and it’s an iconic place to be part of.
Being Chief Executive of this organisation is just, quite simply, a brilliant thing to do. I have enjoyed my time here immensely. It is a really great organisation, with great people working together across the Trust, the wider health and social care system and, indeed, across the area.
The Trust is focused on improving health outcomes for everyone as a priority, of course, but I have never underestimated the wider impact we have on things like the economy due to the number of people we employ and also how we support the millions and millions of people who visit Blackpool and the surrounding areas each year on holiday and need care.
Our hospitals are recognisable ‘anchor’ institutions and very much part of the fabric of life here and that is something to be very proud of. But never underestimate how much our community teams are contributing to people’s lives too, working directly in homes and neighbourhoods and with lots of partners each and every day. Without them Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre would be disadvantaged on so many fronts.
There will be time for Trish to introduce herself and set out some of the things she is most passionate about and wants to achieve in the weeks to come. I have no doubt she’ll want to get straight ‘out and about’ to meet people and listen to feedback and ideas and will become a very familiar face very quickly.
She is picking up the reigns at a time when the Trust is really seeing significant improvements. It’s an exciting time and I want to specifically mention how proud I am of everyone here and what we are achieving together in some really key and important areas.
Firstly, as Covid infection rates continue to rise in our communities and we admit more people into hospital for treatment, we must never forget the impact of the pandemic on colleagues. The experience has been brutal for everyone involved but we continue to come into work and do what we do. I am very proud of everything we have and continue to achieve in the battle against this horrific virus.
At the same time, we’re also dealing with the wider impact of the pandemic.
We have a high number of colleagues who are infected or being pinged to self-isolate through family or friends as well as managing childcare in the same way as others in the community are. This is really impacted on staffing levels at a time when the Trust is so busy. We are doing more, going above and beyond and filling the gaps to support others. That is always the case, truth be told, but nonetheless humbling to see.
We continue to see high volumes of people coming into A&E each day and night. We are supporting large numbers – often at levels we have never seen before – and the pressure on colleagues is immense. Please, encourage family and friends to think carefully about coming into A&E. It is there for life-threatening illness or injury, emergencies and accidents as the name of the department suggests, but more minor issues or concerns are better managed in other places. You can check your symptoms and best places for treatment here and help us to keep A&E resources for those who need them most.
Amidst all of this, the team focused on elective treatment continues to work flat out to reduce our waiting lists as quickly as we are able. They are doing a great job on it too, with most recent figures suggesting we are seeing thousands more people than we saw pre-pandemic and this is rising all the time.
This is a tremendous testimony to the spirit of everyone working in and with this Trust. We’re tired and have been through so much, but here we are battling on for local people and our communities.
So, I mean it when I say I am immensely proud of being Chief Executive here and the last two years have been a genuine honour and privilege. I’m proud to hand over an improving organisation to Trish and I know she’ll pick it up and make it even better still.
In my new role, I will be lead Chief Executive of the Provider Collaborative Board (PCB) which will include oversight of the acute providers in Lancashire and South Cumbria and so I’ll still be involved with this Trust as part of that. Recent performance and improvements at the Trust have been exemplary and I will continue to ‘bang the drum’ to let people know what we are doing and how.
I have no doubt with the continued improvements in the quality of our services, with the brilliant team and the Trish’s leadership, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals will carry on and go from strength to strength.
The organisation deserves recognition and the community can be assured of the sustained improvement in the quality of safe and effective clinical services and to working with everyone across Lancashire and South Cumbria to do that to best effect.
I have some weeks left as part of the team and will continue to do everything I can to support that.
Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust