Hello everyone, and I hope you are all keeping well.
It continues to be an extraordinary time for all members of the team here at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals (BTH) as we continue to wrestle with the delivery of safe services.
In my 30-plus years of working in the NHS I have never witnessed such demands on our clinical and support services, coupled with the continuation of the pandemic. So as a start to this blog I just wanted to reiterate my personal thanks in this public forum to each member of Team BTH who continue to work so hard and with such professionalism.
As members of an organisation which delivers health care services, we everyone has responsibilities as employees to continue to practice safely both at home and also in our private lives.
Although we are seeing a removal of the Government restrictions we have all had to live with for the last 15 months, they remain firmly in place across our settings and it’s clear that the virus hasn’t gone away and will remain in circulation for many years to come. So, it is incumbent on us all to practice good infection prevention control (IPC) in all that we do, including wearing face masks, particularly in enclosed indoor spaces and practicing the now well-worn ‘hands, face and space’ advice.
In addition, please can I implore all colleagues and everyone in the community who hasn’t already done so to take up the offer of the vaccine. This is the safest way of ensuring we are protected from the virus and even if we become infected then the chances of developing severe illness is significantly reduced.
We have all borne witness to the devastation that this virus can cause. We have seen so many of our families, friends and colleagues affected by it, with so many lives lost, as well as the ongoing impact of those who experience protracted symptoms known as Long Covid.
So, our continued response to, and battle against, Covid goes on.
But I do want to move on in this blog, as life itself must do in the weeks and months and years to come, to celebrating all the fantastic work that is currently going on in the Trust and even more so in these pressured and challenging times.
Clearly as this is my guest blog I make no apologies for championing the wonderful work within the teams I have the fortune to work alongside, however, I know there is so much improvement work being undertaken across the Trust as a whole too.
I must call out the COAST accreditation team led by my BTH colleagues Deputy Director of Nursing Jed Walton Pollard, Andrew Heath and Emily Carter for their patience with me and for their dedication in the roll-out of the assessment and accreditation system. I have been working with these types of systems for many years and the reception that it has received from all the teams to date has been exemplary. We have now assessed more than 90 per cent of all wards and departments on both our Blackpool Victoria and Clifton sites with plans to complete all clinical areas by January 2022.
The Quality Improvement directorate led by BTH Associate Director of Quality Improvement, Katharine Goldthorpe, also continues to work at a pace, with continuation of the Quality Improvement Collaboratives focused on reducing hospital and community-acquired pressure ulcers and recognition and response to the deteriorating patient. In addition, we are now on-boarding care and nursing homes with a project aimed at reducing falls resulting in a fractured neck or femur.
Finally, I am delighted to announce we have launched our inaugural Clinical Quality Academy. This is a programme aimed at, initially, consultant-led, multidisciplinary teams of five individuals. We have also been able to attract world-leading improvement science faculty to teach the science of quality improvement.
As a Registered Nurse and Midwifery community we continue to make great progress in our pursuit in ensuring we have a stable and fully established Registered Nurse and Midwife workforce.
Some 20 months ago we had about 280 vacancies. The team led brilliantly by Deputy Director of Nursing Simone Anderton and supported by HR colleagues have worked diligently to now realise a position of a net zero vacancy from September 2021! This has been mainly achieved by significant international recruitment and ensuring all student nurses who train with us are offered substantive contracts.
Nick Lane, our newly-appointed Chief Allied Health Professional (AHP) has also been busy, maintaining the Trust’s profile and ensuring we are right at the front of the national queue to attract funding to develop our AHP workforce. Recently Nick has secured significant extra money to build a AHP strategic workforce plan, and to establish initiatives within the organisation to support workforce priorities across the Allied Health Professions.
Finally, the corporate clinical governance team, led by Stefan Verstraelen, has been working diligently to improve our overarching systems and processes of governance. We have a robust risk management system where all risks are regularly reviewed and managed. Significant improvements have been made to our process of Serious Incident (SI) investigation and, critically, we have 100 per cent compliance in ensuring our obligations round Duty of Candour are met.
So as you can see there has been such a magnificent amount of improvement delivered (and of course these are just a small number of headline examples) despite all the challenges that the pandemic has posed to us all.
We have a lot to be proud of and I know we all share a collective desire to continue to work together to see more improvements in the days and months to come.
By now you have also all probably worked out (it’s blindingly obvious) that I am grateful for the truly fantastic team around me who back me all the way and are absolutely the best that I could ask for!
Finally, my last note is to say two goodbyes to the afore mentioned Stefan and also Kevin McGee our CEO as both move onto new roles in the coming weeks. I wish them well and thank them for all the support they have provided to myself personally and the wider team.
Stay safe and take care.
Executive Director of Nursing, AHP and Quality