Wow!  What an amazing week.  The sun’s shining, our new organisation UHDB was born, the NHS’s 70th birthday and England won a penalty shoot-out in the World Cup!  Does it get much better than this?

Well, we finally made it.  The University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust came into being on 1st July 2018.  First thing on Monday morning, Magnus Harrison, our Medical Director, picked me up from Tamworth Station and we went on a day long road trip visiting all 5 sites of the new UHDB.  First stop was Sir Robert Peel Hospital in Tamworth, next up was Samuel Johnson in Lichfield and onto Queens Hospital at Burton, Royal Derby and at the end of the day, London Road Community Hospital.  We had a terrific time meeting lots of great colleagues from all our hospitals. My overwhelming sense was one of excitement and enthusiasm for the possibilities that the new enlarged organisation brings.   

Although each of the hospitals has a unique personality and character – long may it continue – I’m always powerfully impressed by how much our colleagues have in common and particularly the deep-seated commitment to improving patient care – this will be a powerful force that unites us.  I especially enjoyed my time at Sir Robert Peel and Samuel Johnson community hospitals. These are probably the 2 sites I have perhaps spent less time at over the last couple of years but I was absolutely bowled over by the infectious enthusiasm of the colleagues that I met there. There are too many to mention but I was delighted to spend some time with Matrons Claire and Phil, who were both keen to impress upon me the quality of services delivered at their hospitals and the potential for future development;  absolutely in line with our UHDB strategy to make best use of our community hospitals.

Our plans for the future were very much to the fore when the new UHDB Board met for the first time on Tuesday.  It was a relatively informal first meeting allowing the Board time to consider and discuss some of the major steps to achieve our ‘exceptional care together’ mission.  We talked about our estate, with an amazing presentation from Paul Brooks, who’s been working across all 5 sites for a number of months now – and yes, before you as, itk included our plans for car parking!  

We talked a lot about our ‘University Hospitals’ ambition which is about using the scale of the new organisation to fulfil all that our new name implies. Firstly, developing our services; including securing important local services at QHB, building our specialist services at RDH and making our community hospitals at LRCH and in Lichfield and Tamworth a focus for integrated care. Secondly, to use the benefit of serving a much larger population, almost a million people now, as a driver for our research and development activities. The new Trust is a substantial institution employing over 12,000 people and so our third aim as a ‘University Hospital’ is to become a leader for the training and education of all professional groups in partnership with Health Education England, our local Universities and Further Education providers.  

I was impressed by the good humour and the ease at which the new Board got down to business – it is a testament to the fact that we’ve worked together so closely over the last couple of years that we’re already forming rapidly as a team.

I really enjoyed our NHS 70 celebrations this week.  I’m incredibly proud to be part of such a marvellous institution and was genuinely moved by the way the celebrations were embraced by my colleagues and appreciated by members of the public.  

BBC Radio Derby were with us all day at RDH – their outside broadcast began with Ian Skye first thing in the front of our Emergency Department talking to some of our colleagues about their reflections on the NHS, both in the past and what it’s like today.  

We also had Sally Pepper, who led the official cake cutting ceremony and staff singing happy birthday to the NHS live on radio.  It was hilarious when Sally gave the news that everyone was expected to sing live on radio – expressions of horror and edging towards the door ensued.  Nevertheless, it was a rousing rendition! There were lots and lots of individual tea parties on all 5 sites, with staff taking the opportunity to show off their baking skills and raising a bit of money for the various hospital charities.  It was a marvellous day and I think the happy coincidence of NHS 70 and the beginning of the new organisation seemed to come together to build a real party atmosphere and sense of excitement for the future.

On that note, I was delighted to be asked by Cathy Winfield, our Executive Chief Nurse, to join a senior clinical leader’s ‘master class’ first thing on this morning.  There were over a 100 senior nursing leaders from across all 5 of the trusts hospitals and it was a real privilege to share some thoughts with them during our first week as UHDB.  We talked a lot about the fundamental principle that unites us, i.e. a passion to deliver the best possible care for our patients. I was really pleased that colleagues felt able to share some of their personal stories, their experiences and hopes for the future.  This is such a powerful group of leaders within our Trust and I was left with a strong sense that with these amazing people leading our front line teams that our new organisation will achieve its aim to deliver exceptional care for the communities we serve. I’ve made a short video which covers some of the ground we discussed this morning.  

You can watch it on YouTube here

Thanks to Lee Doyle and Megan Williams, ED ‘nurse in charge’ on Thursday, for letting me sit in on the 8.30am ED huddle at RDH – it was very impressive!

And good luck to Stuart Benney and his merry band cycling to Holland (Yes really!) and back over the weekend to raise money for our hospital charities.

I’m looking forward to my walkabout at QHB next Monday afternoon with Duncan Managing Director (Burton) – come and say ‘Hi’ if you see us about.

So, at the end of such an auspicious week, my overriding message is that the thing that makes the NHS so amazing is the people who work in it.  I thank you all!

The sun continues to shine and England are playing again tomorrow – I finish the week in such an optimistic frame of mind that I can’t help but believe that, maybe, this time, “it’s coming home!”

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Gavin