February 2016

February blog

I was delighted this month to see the board approve the final parts of the strategic vision for the future.  Our 2020 vision has been much discussed on these pages before, but lays a clear, radical commitment to reshape what we do around patients and carers, focused on the outcomes that matter to them.  We have five pillars which support that vision, which we have developed over the last two years.

  1. Our public health plan, which is widely praised, and has seen us invest more in staff mental health, alter food consumption in our Trust, and drive up opportunities for exercise.  The greatest tests lie ahead as we look to address unplanned alcohol related admissions and tackle smoking among staff and visitors.  This was the very first plan we built, and is overseen by a committee chaired by our Trust Chairman.  We know that by 2030 we have to change underlying ill health in our communities, and we need to start fast.
  2. Our research and development plan – led by Professor Karim Raza from the University of Birmingham, which, among many goals, aims to treble trial recruitment locally.  If we succeed we will lead the West Midlands.  We are determined to give local people access to the very best innovation, and to use R&D to recruit clinicians who share our values and ambitions.
  3. Our education, learning and development plan that alters how we view training and development in the Trust.  A three year look replaces a one year horizon, with ring-fenced training spend which has grown dramatically in the last two years.  This is a hugely ambitious endeavour, which specifically targets skills and knowledge development in mid-career.

And now we have agreed (4) our safety and our quality plans (5).  We have decided what to prioritise, with all the awkwardness and ethical complexity that that implies.  Our safety plan sets out some ‘always’ events, which we will consistently deliver.  These are the basics.  Yet we know in healthcare around the world that every place sometimes misses those basics.  We are dedicated to trying to change that.  The ambitions in our quality plan are high ones – addressing avoidable deaths, improving the end of life care of local people, and supporting life chances among the young by focusing on keeping people at school, and among older people by tackling issues like eye disease and dementia.  The plans will be live on our website later in the month.

All of this adds up to a clear vision.  Our 2020 vision – which is all about sustainability and transformation.  The very thing that NHS planning guidance now urges everyone to do.  Of course being ahead of the game in thinking about these issues does not guarantee success.  We know that all of these issues are difficult ones, requiring humility in changing well-loved practices, and courage in innovating too.  Increasingly I see a Trust that has those capabilities.  Each month our quality improvement half days bring together over 1,500 staff to talk about safety and to discuss plans for improvement.  Clinical leadership remains the bedrock of our efforts, and just this week we launched the second year of our programme to support all new consultant staff with leadership training.  Two new leaders have stepped up to the most senior clinical roles, around our executive table, to lead respectively surgery B and imaging.  That we now have a ‘pipeline’ of leaders is immensely encouraging.

Last night the Trust succeeded in gaining recognition for the incredible work we do on apprenticeships and widening participation.  Named as best Large Employer among all the NHS organisations in the West Midlands and also celebrated for our partnership with St Basils to deliver the ‘Live Work’ project aimed at young people who are at risk of homelessness.  We have difficult years ahead in the NHS for our workforce.  On the one hand all NHS Trusts, including our own, will employ fewer people.  At the same time, the demography of the workforce may see many retire or change their hours.  We have new roles to develop, and existing roles to reshape.  Having ring-fenced well over £1million for training, and with our teams’ training plans due in at month end, we are well placed to try and navigate these competing challenges.  Apprenticeships, either for young people, or those in middle-age, are part of a strategy to help.  We are looking to bring people into the NHS who may never have considered a career in the service, to inspire local kids across our patch to look at the huge range of roles available, and the fantastic development support now on offer.  Our Learning Works has been pushing that agenda for several years, and it is great to see them get yet more wider recognition.  They are based opposite the new hospital, Midland Met – a symbol of our vision, ambition and commitment to regeneration.