Earlier this week I attended an interesting dinner discussion organised by the Kent, Surrey, Sussex Academic Health Science Network. The subject of the discussion was how the network can support local health economy transformation, with a particular emphasis on supporting our elderly population to live independently and safely at home for longer, with reduced reliance on hospital based care.
Given the enormous capacity pressures we’ve been experiencing recently and the considerable rise in hospital admissions from the over 75 age group (up by over 26% in December against last year), this discussion was particularly pertinent. I joined leaders from across healthcare, social care and private industry including BT, Unipart and a Westminster Policy Think Tank. We had a very wide ranging discussion and my main suggestion was that the Network think about how they could use their specific knowledge and expertise – particularly from the private sector – to help those of us working in front-line healthcare provision free up more time and capacity to look after patients. As an example, using technological solutions to save time and help us become more efficient. We’ll be watching and supporting the Network over the coming months to see what emerges as a result.
The dinner took place after the Network’s first ever healthcare Expo event, an opportunity to showcase innovations from across the region with the potential to transform patient care. This was followed by the Network’s annual Awards ceremony where Team ASPH was once again amongst the winners, scooping the brilliant Clinical Leadership Award for our Early Supported Discharge Team. Collecting the award on behalf of the team (see below) were Dr Keefai Yeong, Dr Radcliffe Lisk, Kate Eidens, Hazel Watters, Michal Krasuski, Helen Haylor, Sabrina Linstromberg and Vicky Main with other members of the team - Debbie-Ann Heinze, Cathy Parsons and Rachel Parrott - unable to make the ceremony. Well done.
I couldn’t finish this message without making reference to all the pressures we have been under over the past few weeks and in particular without a big thank you to everyone for all your hard work in helping to improve our position. And I do mean everybody. The focus within a hospital is often on clinical teams, but I want to be clear that I believe our non-clinical colleagues make a very important contribution to patient care and have like so many others in the last few weeks gone the extra mile to support the whole team. Although we are still very busy, we are slowly working our way back to a recovered position. A huge personal thank you from me.
One positive – I think! – impact of all this has been the level of interest shown in our hospitals and more importantly on the reasons behind these pressures. We had a good opportunity to describe some of this on last Saturday’s The Today Programme on BBC Radio 4 where you may have heard colleagues Sister Pat Miles, Dr Tim Williams, Dr Helen Cannon and Sister Sarah Moth join me live on air, supported by pre-recorded interviews with Dr Peter Wilkinson, Sister Tess Martin and Hardev Gill. We’ve received a lot of positive comments following the broadcast – from inside and outside our hospitals - and I think it’s been helpful for members of the public to hear directly from front-line staff about the impact these pressures have.
In the meantime, have a great weekend whatever you are doing.
With very best wishes,