May 2015

Now the general election is done, we have forwarded our latest Midland Met business case to Whitehall. It is an exciting time as ourselves and Carillion get on with the planning consent exhibitions. Trust clinicians have worked incredibly hard in the last nine months to design a human but efficient hospital. I hope that that effort meets with public approval and support, and that important design touches about how the building sits in our community and the surrounding landscape find favour and support – and are improved further by feedback. If you want to see design images or get involved in the planning process then there are details via this link.

Probably inevitably, a new Government sees a raft of announcements and policy direction. I am sure in the year ahead there is much more to come as the NHS truly considers the demography, epidemiology and finances of our services through to 2020 and 2030. I got involved in what Mrs Merton would call a heated debate with colleagues recently about whether the Midland Met is a ‘smaller hospital’. On the day it opens it will be only slightly smaller than our sites today for acute care, but of course it has to cope with thirty years of change (which is roughly the contract length, with the building being handed to us at the end in its day one state). So the changes we make in our care models now are about securing that very long term future. Victory is not opening on day one and having the site work well for patients and staff; that would be akin to leading on the first lap of the race. We have to change need and demand in the population through prevention if we are succeed a decade or more from now.

The Prime Minister visited local NHS services earlier in the month to talk about new models of care, though his visit to our Vitality partners with slightly overshadowed by the ‘seven day debate’. With such policy announcements my test is always were we going to do it anyway? If yes, then the trick is how we use the impetus of attention to go further, faster. Right Care, Right Here has sat behind our work, and future plan, for a long time. We have refreshed the governance of the programme, appointing a new independent chair, and a programme director. Their job is to make sure that the actions taken by partners do not just move forward care locally, but are sufficient actions, taken at sufficient pace and scale, to achieve everyone’s aim of the thriving NHS in Sandwell and West Birmingham in 2020. Our Trust Board has now approved publication of the Trust’s 2020 Vision for final consultation this summer. What is important about that document is that it underscores that we are not aiming to open a new hospital – instead actions like the new build, the renovation of Sandwell, the investment in IT, the huge growth in training spend, are about improving outcomes and satisfaction for patients over the next five years.

May sees our auditors looking through our reports about 2014-2015: Our annual report, annual accounts, quality account, and our charity’s account. All are due for unveiling at the AGM on June 25th. At the same time, we have published our annual plan for 2015-2016, and the version sent to all employees with their payslips this month, and is shown here. There are no big changes of direction. Indeed our annual report on 2014-2015 is all about sticking to the plan. We are seeing outcomes continue to improve and our finances hold together better under strain than other places. There is no denying the pressure on our workforce, nor the challenges of maintaining particularly acute services at a time of national shortages in some disciplines. We need to have confidence that we can tackle all of these issues, rather than imagining that going backwards or slower will somehow shelter us from the winds of change. Always facing it has to be our leadership maxim. By doing that honestly and frankly, being open when we fall short, and ambitious about our future, we will succeed.

Part of that success must be mobilising 7000 colleagues. In the month just ending we have seen two huge efforts to that end. Our second quality improvement half day [QIHD in jargon speak] attracted as many staff, over 1500, as our first in April. The focus of some of that protected time was our OK to ask campaign. The foundation of this is that policies, audits, inspectors, are not what will make us a safe place to be cared for in. What will is encouraging, promoting, celebrating, the vigilance of staff, and indeed relatives and patients. We have been doing that with Ten Out Ten on our wards for a while. But OK to ask has a real focus on basics of care – hand-washing, medicines security, consent. Then in the run up to the second bank holiday, we had our Urgent Care Challenge events. These set out to take all the ideas of employees and turn them into consistent change – discharges before lunch, admitting decisions within an hour in A&E, clinical teams functioning together at ward level with ward rounds on the move, and board rounds that make decisions. There is more to do, but it would be hard for anyone on the strength of this week to think that our Trust regards emergency care as ‘A&E issue’. The dedication of teams Trust-wide, in community and acute, corporate and clinical functions, has been impressive. We had a bad winter in 2012, did much better in 2013, and feel back in 2014. Looking ahead, now, to the winter months of 2015 we are making changes that will stand us in good stead.

I hope, as a Trust, you find us open to feedback. In celebrating international nurses’ day our Chief Nurse Colin Ovington has be out site-wide thanking staff for their work. And in developing our outpatient changes, Chief Operating Officer, Rachel Barlow has been ‘interviewing’ patients in waiting rooms and following our signage from door to clinic room. There are all sorts of routes to give your ideas and experiences now in place across SWBH. We are always keen to hear from you. Sometimes we disagree – I know I did not convince one local resident that our refusal to sell highly sugared drinks was the right policy. But more usually we are able to act – wifi on our sites, due to go live at Sandwell very soon, is a direct result of patient and staff feedback, likewise some changes we are making now to patient noticeboards in our ward areas. Do get in touch with me direct if that helps through or DM on twitter through Toby_Lewis@SWBH