I hope you've been able to take a look at my video message that went out yesterday about our forthcoming CQC inspection, and if not you can see it here. It's a quick and simple way to find out what you can expect from the inspection, so please share and watch with your teams if you can. This visit offers a real opportunity for us to showcase our progress since the last inspection in 2014.
One of the key areas the CQC highlighted, and one we can expect them to follow up on, was around recruitment and retention. At ASPH we face very similar difficulties to other Trusts, yet since 2014, we have made a lot of progress and I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight some of that to you. As well as continuing our programme of recruitment - locally, nationally and overseas - members of the team have also been turning their focus to new and innovative ways of developing our own practices and workforce. In particular, I've been really impressed with how colleagues are nurturing and developing talent within Team ASPH and thinking creatively about how we can fill some of the gaps.
For example, faced with difficulties in recruiting pre-consultant grade doctors in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the leadership team decided to introduce the role of Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (ANNP). This not only provides experienced NICU nurses with the opportunity to undertake further (masters level) study, it also allows them to develop highly specialist skills in assessment, decision-making, prescribing treatment and medication and to perform advanced procedures. ANNPs are now qualified to fulfil many of the duties traditionally undertaken by doctors and means they can also be part of the middle grade doctors' rota. As many doctors work on rotation as part of their training, the ANNPs' knowledge and expertise will remain in the department which is a huge boost to the wider team. We currently have one ANNP in post and two completing their studies in September.
Another common challenge has been finding bank or locum cover, particularly for doctors, which has traditionally resulted in high agency costs and many hours spent trying to fill shifts. The innovative Locum's Nest app has helped to transform the way we book bank staff.
Designed by two junior doctors at a nearby Trust, the system allows a quick and easy match between gaps and the availability of those looking for additional work. In particular it has facilitated the establishment of a collaborative Staff Bank with Royal Surrey County Hospital - giving each Trust open access to doctors who are members of each other's Staff Bank. This has effectively doubled our available pool of doctors enabling staff across both organisations to cross-cover. In particular, responsibility for how we spend our medical resources has shifted to our clinical leaders, which has led to a more in-depth understanding and challenging of the status quo in a positive way. Last year 318 collaborative shifts were worked, with net savings of around £1.6 million. In May the scheme was extended to include Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Salisbury Foundation Trust.
Finally, I'd like to highlight the great progress we've been making in Pharmacy; under the leadership of Chief Pharmacist Olatokunbo Ogunbanjo (Toks), the team has moved from a position of high vacancy rates just over a year ago, to one where there are no longer any pharmacist vacancies and where colleagues are feeling much more motivated and supported. New career progression opportunities have given 'rising stars' the chance to grow, with more access to training courses and development opportunities across the team. In terms of improving support to the wards, Divisional Pharmacists are now supported by Junior Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians, working together to provide more consistent cover. A new 'employee of the month' award is also helping to recognise and reward colleagues.
These examples are just the tip of the iceberg and are living examples of our positive culture of curiosity and creativity. I'm hugely encouraged by the way colleagues are tackling some of these challenges and I'm sure the CQC will be too.
In the meantime, continue to think about how you will showcase the best of what you're doing in your area. Above all, my key message remains the same - be open, be honest and be proud.
Have a great weekend,
With best wishes,