Monday, 26 September 2016

Developing the treatments of tomorrow

The Department of Health recently announced that medical researchers in Nottingham were to receive £23.6m to expand the pioneering work already taking place into new treatments and diagnostics for a wide range of health problems. This funding represents a 75% increase in funding from 2012 – a good news story for Nottingham and remarkable achievement for NUH.

We are proud to say that NUH is already home to two Biomedical Research Units (BRUs) carrying out vital and life-changing research into hearing and digestive diseases.

Next year (April) these BRUs will be replaced with Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs) and working with The University of Nottingham we will be leading the UK in five key areas of health research:

  • Deafness and hearing loss
  • Gastrointestinal and liver disease
  • Respiratory medicine
  • Musculoskeletal disease
  • Mental health technology
At the core of the BRC will be Nottingham’s world-leading expertise in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). It means the latest medical imaging research and technology pioneered here can be translated into real benefits for patients in all five of the BRC’s research areas.

So what does all this mean for our patients? It means new medicines and tests, improved treatments and better ways of providing healthcare here in Nottingham and throughout the country.

Doctors and nurses use research studies to compare current treatments with potentially better ones in order to prevent illnesses and improve quality of life as well as our understanding of medical conditions.

Without health research none of this would be possible.

Our vision is to offer research opportunities to every patient that comes to our hospitals. The BRC will be a catalyst to realise this vision.

Nottingham has a long-established history with health research - the anti-inflammatory drug Ibuprofen and the MRI scanner were both developed in the city. The new BRC will continue this rich history of innovation and development providing the stepping stones for the treatments of tomorrow. 

Monday, 12 September 2016

Supporting our doctors of the future

We talk a lot about TeamNUH, and our programme of engagement to ensure that all 14,000 NUH staff feel part of our team. We also acknowledge that it’s very often the smaller things (and acts) that make the biggest difference to our staff.

Both of these themes were topics of discussion at the doctors in training supper I attended last week along with Executive colleagues. The Trust Board holds regular sessions with our doctors in training (junior doctors) so that we have a forum in which we can listen to how our colleagues are feeling about working at our hospitals and importantly, do all we can to improve their experience.

This latest meeting was timely – the week before the proposed industrial action, which has now of course been called off, much to the relief of many given the scale of the disruption this would have had on hospitals across the country, largely due to the short notice. We are already working on plans to keep our patients as safe as we can over the periods strike action is planned from October to December, respecting of course the legitimate right of our doctors in training to take action.

We fully recognise the crucial contribution doctors at all levels of training make to the care of our patients, and to the safe and effective running of our hospitals.  We need trainees of the present, and of the future, to work alongside clinical and non-clinical colleagues here and in other parts of the NHS. Today’s trainees have a tough job, work in very pressurised environments and have significant responsibilities.  They are the next generation of consultants and medical leaders, who are vital for the future of the NHS. Our job is to invest sufficient time and energy to support our trainees as best we can.

How valued and supported our trainees feel is affected by lots of different things during their working days and nights, many of which we can influence and change for the better.

There was much for us to reflect on as a Board after last week’s meeting and some changes we can all make to help our trainees feel a greater sense of belonging to our hospitals.  We all need to ensure trainees are welcomed to TeamNUH from the moment they arrive in the Trust, and, most importantly, are welcomed as a vital part of the multi-disciplinary team in the ward or clinical area in which they work.  It was disappointing to hear a number of examples where this clearly hadn't happened, balanced by some very positive feedback about working in NUH.

First impressions and contacts really do matter, and this extends to our trainees. It also impacts on recruitment in the longer-term and whether doctors will want to return to Nottingham based on their experience as a trainee.

There is more we can do to improve the facilities our trainees have access to, whether it’s rest (mess) areas, lockers or better access to reliable computer systems to make their busy and often demanding lives easier and support their ongoing learning.

These conversations, like those we have throughout the month on our wards and with our clinical and non-clinical teams across NUH are invaluable, keeping us firmly in touch with the real feeling on the ground, and helping us to respond quickly to concerns, frustrations or ‘blockages in the system’ and ultimately improve the experience of all of TeamNUH (including our doctors in training).

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

It’s good to talk

This week is Organ Donation Week.

The annual UK-wide awareness week aims to increase understanding of organ donation and encourage more people to join the NHS Organ Donor Register and pass on their wishes.

Up and down the country thousands of people are waiting for a life changing organ transplant. 1,000 people a year – that's three a day – will die whilst in need of a transplant because there aren’t enough organs available.

Despite the thousands of life-saving transplant operations which take place every year, 6,500 people are on the transplant waiting list in the UK.

Over the last five years we have significantly expanded and developed our donation programme at NUH. Last year, 90 patients benefited from 100 organs transplanted from 32 donors. Many more donated tissue and gave the gift of sight to hundreds of people.

More than 120 patients in the Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust area have received major organ transplants – heart, lungs, liver, pancreas or kidney – since 2013.  In the same period, 13 patients have died while waiting for a transplant to become available. 36 people are currently still waiting.

Organ Donation Week is also a time to say thank you and to honour those individuals and families who have given the gift of life through organ donation – often during times of extreme sadness.

We’re extremely proud of our long commitment to donation and transplantation and we know that families in and around Nottingham consider donation important.

One of the most important things you can do after joining the NHS Organ Donor Register is to talk about your decision with family and friends so that we know, you know and they know you have registered to become an organ donor.

It’s not only good, but it’s vital that you talk to your family and friends about your decision.

The reason for this is simple: when donation is a possibility, we want to be able to provide the opportunity and support for patients and their families to make that gift a possibility if that was the individual’s wish in life.

We have found that these discussions are made easier for bereaved families if the individual was on the NHS Organ Donor Register or had spoken previously of their wish to donate.

It is for this reason we urge you to think for a moment of the generosity of those who have given the gift of life and then discuss your wishes with your family.

So during Organ Donation Week please think about the amazing gift organ donation is, please join the NHS Organ Donor Register, and please make sure that your loved ones know that you've done so.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Recognising our Reservists

Last night I had the privilege of attending a special dinner with a remarkable group of people.

Winston Churchill famously said, "The Reservist is twice the citizen", as they typically combine military and civilian life duties to serve the country. A statement I could not agree with more.

Last night was the first time I have attended the annual dinner that we host to recognise the work of our Reservist staff, but it certainly won’t be the last. Hearing first hand from those colleagues who have made the incredible commitment of serving their country is one of the many privileges I get to experience as Chair.

NUH has a track record of actively supporting the recruitment of Reservists and recognising the unique contribution they make to an acute hospital. We have, for some time, maintained a signed pledge with the Ministry of Defence committing our support to facilitating deployment and/or training in military activities for our Reservists.

The 17 reservists employed by NUH include medics, nurses, operating department practitioners and non-clinical staff working in a range of managerial and administrative roles. We consistently find that the skills and experience developed by Reservists during their training and mobilisation helps them to be even more effective when they return to our hospitals.

To further improve our commitment as a Reservist-friendly employer, this year we are creating a web page link from our online vacancy page so that potential applicants can find out more about the support they can expect from us at NUH. We will also be adopting the model Reservist policy which has recently been published by NHS Employers, and one of our current Reservists has this year been working with our HR team to enhance our knowledge of how best to attract new recruits.

We are extremely proud of the army Reservists who work at our hospitals and on behalf of the NUH Trust Board, I would like to thank every one of them for the unique contribution they make to our hospitals. 

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Celebrating the best of NUH

Today we announce the names of the 650-plus teams and individuals who have been nominated for this year’s NUHonours Awards.

It is great to see so many staff nominated and recognised by both patients and their colleagues – and this year we received over 100 more nominations than last.

While we have significant challenges (not least emergency access performance and finance), very often this can detract from the fantastic work that is happening in almost every other domain. And it is important that as we rightly address our challenges, we don’t lose sight of the many positives that we have to celebrate.

Many congratulations to everyone who has been nominated for an award this year – regardless of how far you make it in this process – this is an excellent achievement which you should be proud of and celebrate.

This year we have introduced a number of new categories in response to feedback from patients and staff. This includes a Behind the Scenes Award (for Corporate Services), a Better Futures Award (to recognise those who have contributed to employment opportunities, education, teaching and learning and community partnerships) and a Team of the Year Award, which has proved to be the most popular category, with some 100 nominations.

Thank you to our Nottingham Hospitals Charity for supporting NUHonours Awards for a tenth consecutive year. It is only right that in the year we celebrate 10 years of both NUH and the Charity that we have a special award to celebrate an individual who has made a special contribution to patient care over the last decade. The winner of this category (unlike the others) will be chosen by our Chief Executive, Peter Homa, who incidentally also celebrates 10 years at NUH in 2016.

In response to staff feedback – including a recent ‘leavers’ survey’ as we seek to understand why staff chose to move on from NUH - we recognise that we have more to do to recognise our staff throughout the year and we are working on it. This includes everything from our annual staff awards (like NUHonours Awards and Long Service Awards) and recognising the contributions of those who are retiring from NHS and NUH service,  right the way through to the vitally important daily acts of recognition from every line manager across our hospitals.

Shortlists for NUHonours will be published in early October and winners announced at a special awards ceremony on Friday 25 November. For now, very well done to all nominees for this wonderful achievement, and thanks to all of you who took the time to nominate your hospital hero!

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Celebrating 1 year of trams at QMC

I’m a great fan of public transport.  When my partner and I moved to Nottingham 11 years ago, we didn’t have a car.  We did all our house hunting by public transport.  And I think I may have been the first Non-Executive Director to routinely travel to Board meetings at City Hospital by bus.

So one year ago today, when history was made with QMC becoming the first hospital in the country to be connected by tram, I was delighted.

Over the last 365 days, almost 98,000 trams have passed through QMC, carrying 700,000 passengers (an average of 2,000 people a day).

Our remarkable team of 13 loyal and valued volunteers have worked 2,288 hours between them over the last year (in all weathers!) to help patients and staff who choose to travel by tram to find their way in and around our hospital. Their work has been even more important in the absence of a dedicated tram entrance; a development we are prioritising in the coming year to further improve access to our hospitals and persuade ever more patients and visitors to use the tram to get to QMC.

QMC is one of 51 tram stops serving Nottingham – and we are so lucky to have it at our hospital. Hundreds of colleagues are now taking advantage of the generous staff discounts on offer, and using the tram rather than their cars to get to work – but we have still more to do in this area to maximise the numbers choosing not to drive. Pressures on our car parks have eased since the tram’s arrival, but too many patients still complain about their poor experience of parking at our hospital, showing we haven’t got this right yet despite all our efforts over the last year to ease congestion.

The trams run 7 days a week, every 7 minutes between 6am and midnight. Give it a try and find out about ticket prices and staff discounts here.

Our partnership with Nottingham Express Transit (NET) goes from strength each year.  We are incredibly grateful for NET’s ongoing sponsorship of our popular Nurse and Midwife of the Year Awards. We are pleased that NET have a dedicated ‘tram zone’ in QMC’s main reception area to promote the tram and signpost patients, visitors and staff to information about tram stops and ticket prices. We look forward to working with NET on the new tram entrance development over the coming year to further improve accessibility to our hospital.

Seeing our Nurse of the Year’s name on one of the fleet of trams, along with other Nottingham heroes, still puts a smile on my face.   It makes me proud to live and work in such a fantastic city. A big thanks to NET for making this happen and working so closely with us throughout the year to help celebrate our staff and promote the tram as the best travel option.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Thank you Nottingham Hospitals Radio!

Our remarkable team of volunteers who have kept Nottingham Hospitals Radio going 24 hours a day, for the past 42 years, across QMC and City, deserve a big pat on the back.

Last Friday evening, it was my privilege to join Rajiv on the Nottingham Hospitals Radio as his guest on the flagship ‘Your Choice’ Programme to talk about all things NUH and all things ‘non NUH’ (including my passions for cricket, sailing and singing!)

It was a real experience to go behind the scenes and see where our very own hospital radio broadcasts from every day of the year. Although you may not have heard much about our hospital radio (or indeed known that we had our own radio station), NHR plays an invaluable part in our patients’ rest and recovery and experience in our care. The national-award winning Nottingham’s Hospital Radio team are an important part of the entertainment we offer our inpatients, with quizzes, live sports commentary (including from Trent Bridge) and special music requests and interviews with guests throughout the week.  They contribute in an important way to improving the morale of our patients when they are feeling low and often lonely in hospital.

Part of our exceptional team of 1,500 volunteers who work across our hospitals, our Hospitals Radio volunteers deserve recognition and praise for their long-standing contribution to QMC and City over the last 4 decades.  The Charity actively fundraises throughout the year to keep ‘the show on the road’ – including the radio station’s traditional annual fundraiser: the Robin Hood Half-Marathon bed push. The least we can do is lend our colleagues a bed for this adventurous endeavour!

So I’d like to say a big “thank you” to our volunteers at Nottingham Hospitals Radio for everything you do.

Our colleagues at Nottingham Hospitals Radio are always looking for more volunteers. If you are interested or would like to know more about the work they do, please get in touch: or call 0115 970 45 55.