A big part of our ambition as a University Hospital is to be at the leading edge of technology and making sure that the benefits it brings are there for our patients. On Wednesday, a group of some of our surgical and anaesthetic leaders met to take stock of the progress we’ve made in introducing robotically assisted surgery at RDH and developing plans for the future. Derby has been a pioneer in robotic surgical techniques and around 300 operations are now robotically assisted each year. The benefits for patients are significant, with less invasive procedures, shorter stays in hospital, greater surgical precision and the ability to access parts of the anatomy which are difficult by conventional means.

It was terrific to learn about the progress in some of our key surgical specialities. Urology are certainly leading the way, with nearly all of our prostate cancer procedures being performed by robot – guided by one of our surgeons of course! But we’re also increasingly using this technology in colorectal surgery, gynaecology and head and neck surgery. We also discussed the potential to use it to improve HPB (liver pancreas and gall bladder surgery), building on our recent success in pioneering laparoscopic surgery for pancreatitis. But it’s not only about the surgical procedures themselves, it’s also our aim to develop as a centre for training and research in these techniques.

We actually met at Pride Park Stadium, which was fitting given that Mel Morris, the Derby County owner, who’s a great supporter of the Trust, helped us to acquire and operate our first robot. One of the benefits of our merger is that it allows us to provide services to a much greater population, not only in Derbyshire but across South and East Staffordshire too. This gives us the opportunity to develop specialist areas of expertise like robotics but also in a way that benefits a much larger number of people. It’s trail blazing stuff!

Talking about our merger, Magnus, our Executive Medical Director, and myself went along to the Health and Wellbeing Board in Derby City this week to update on the progress being made. We particularly focussed on the patient benefits that were a fundamental part of the plan and the progress we’re making in areas such as stroke, cardiology, renal services etc. Regarding the latter, Magnus mentioned that, as part of our merger plan, we’ve introduced an inpatient renal service at Burton to work in partnership with the medical teams there – we’ve already seen significant improvement in patients’ outcomes as a result.

Whilst at the Council House, I also took the opportunity to catch up with Carole Mills, who’s the Chief Executive of Derby City Council. The Council is an important partner for UHDB and we talked about how we could build on this to do even more together to improve the lives of local people. I took the opportunity to compliment her on the excellent work of the adult social care team, who work so closely with us at RDH. I mentioned last week our Integrated Discharge team and the key role that social workers from both the County and City play in making it so effective. This is doubly important at the moment in helping us to manage the surge in demand associated with winter.

Teams across all of our five sites have continued to work incredibly well making sure that our patients are cared for and are safe this winter. It’s been another challenging week but I believe that we are managing extremely well. We’ve particularly seen pressure on our critical care areas over the last few days with an increase particularly with patients with severe respiratory illness and influenza.  Well done everybody for continuing to pull together to deliver safe care.

I’ve had a couple of out and abouts this week as well, this time at Queens Hospital in Burton. It was a pleasure to have a tour of the Treatment Centre with Kim Laban. I was extremely impressed by the enthusiasm of the colleagues I met there, all clearly proud of the work that they do. We’ve started work on building some inpatient capacity linked to the Treatment Centre to allow us to extend the type of surgery we do there and maximise the use of the six operating theatres. Exciting times ahead! I also visited Ward 19, which is an orthopaedic ward, but for the winter has switched over to look after medical patients. This is a big challenge for the ward team and I’m really grateful to them for supporting this part of our winter plan.

We’ve run a series of breakfast time meet ups recently – and today I got along to the staff restaurant at RDH for a bacon butty (vegetarian options also available!) and a chat with some of my RDH colleagues. The event was really well attended and I had some great conversations with our MAU team, ACPs and a group of our clinical apprentices. Other members of the Exec team attended similar events on all of our five sites today. I must say I’ve really enjoyed the sessions I’ve been at and I think we’d like to keep this as a regular feature. Thanks to colleagues who’ve come along to give it their support.

This week we launched our third big conversation on the CleverTogether social media platform.  Hopefully, you’ll have had an email from me. With this link you can access this on a mobile phone, tablet or your PC at work – it’s really easy to do. This time we’re playing back all of the things you’ve told us before about our Why, How and What? – really shaping the future direction for our new organisation. This is your chance to tell us what’s strong, wrong and missing, so get involved and have your say.

Have a great weekend

Gavin

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