Published on: 5 August 2022

I have been reflecting on gender equality this week, probably like most people, after the inspirational success of England’s European Championship winning women’s football team ‘the Lionesses’.

It’s clear from the coverage in the run up to Sunday’s incredible final and the celebrations that have followed since their great 2-1 victory over our long-time rivals Germany that this team didn’t get here without a great deal of hard work and hurdles they simply wouldn’t have encountered as part of the men’s team.

I know the victory was made even more special for everyone in Pennine Lancashire in the knowledge that three of the champions – Georgia Stanway, Keira Walsh and Ella Toone – trained just across the road from Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital as part of the Blackburn Rovers academy.

I bet training camps and teams all over England are inundated with girls this week queuing up to play and emulate these great role models – and this is just great news for football and women’s sport in general in my opinion. Anyone who ever doubted it has their answer, that’s for sure. The determination, team spirit and pure joy of the Lionesses through the tournament has been a huge inspiration and I hope will provide a legacy for women’s sport for ever more.

I have met some inspirational women and role models myself this week – which will come as no real surprise as women make up a huge percentage of the team here at the Trust, including 75 per cent of our most senior roles.

Speaking as a proud son, husband and stepfather to three incredible women and also the Chief Executive of an organisation which values people equally, champions equal opportunities for all and encourages talent from any and all walks of life, this diversity is what makes us great.

Coincidentally, I spent the afternoon with the brilliant team at one of our services focused on women’s health just yesterday. I want to say thank you to the entire breast care team based at Burnley General Teaching Hospital for everything they do for people in our communities and an extra shout out to Helen, a specialist breast care nurse, who welcomed me and was so generous with her time and enthusiasm during the visit. The team so clearly lived and breathed the Trust’s values, it was humbling to see.

I was over at Burnley earlier this week too visiting the team at the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) who are again largely made up of amazing women helping other women and families. I was accompanied by local MP Anthony Higginbotham who was really impressed with the quality of the service, the facilities we have at Lancashire Women’s and Newborn Centre and the team themselves. I want to again thank everyone for their contribution to safe maternity and neo-natal care but especially mention Savi and Ruth who looked after us during the morning. Your welcome, expertise and obvious dedication was clear and I have no doubt will inspire others, including young women in Pennine Lancashire, to follow your lead into fulfilling careers.

If you watched the STAR Awards last month you will also have seen a number of great women nominated for their work across the Trust and our communities. If you haven’t watched it yet, you still can, just click here.

This week I was privileged to take time out and visit a few of our winners to present them with physical trophies and it was lovely to be able to drop in and recognise colleagues in person.

First, I met Vicki Stephenson-Hornby, winner of our Outstanding Achievement Award, and was truly in awe of her enthusiasm and dedication to her work. Joining the Trust at the height of the first wave of the pandemic as a pancreas specialist nurse, Vicky has worked tirelessly to get diagnostic tests processed quicker whilst also developing education sessions to enhance the skills of colleagues across departments.  Thank you Vicky, this work has made such a difference to local people, colleagues and the service as a whole.

I also called in on Pam Henderson, Acting Directorate Manager for Clinical Laboratory Medicine and winner of our Leadership Award. Pam was nominated and ultimately successful for being pivotal in managing the team through a number of significant challenges. I really enjoyed talking to Pam about her work and was glad to hear she’d enjoyed the STAR Awards itself. Thanks for everything you do – a very worthy winner indeed.

I hope it is evident, day to day, that I am absolutely committed to ensuring all colleagues, partners, patients and visitors to the Trust feel valued and welcome – whether that is through gender equality or across any of the other strands championed by our staff networks.

So I was equally as delighted to drop in and present the Employee of the Year Award to our Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Officer Saraj Mohammed.

Saraj is one of those people who just epitomises the spirit of ELHT in everything he does. Saraj and the rest of his team have already gained some recognition locally and nationally for the outreach work being carried out within our local mosques – significantly increasing uptake of the services and support we provide within the Asian community – so it was no surprise when he won the category.  It was great to catch up with Saraj and present his trophy in person. Well done and congratulations again, you are such as asset to the Trust and healthcare as a whole.

I have shared the news in recent weeks that the Trust is looking to appoint a substantive Chief Executive Officer into the post I have been doing as interim for about a year.

Interviews will take place on Tuesday, with an internal and an external stakeholder panel assessment and a formal interview, conducted by a range of people including colleagues from across the Trust and representatives from the wider health and social care system in Pennine Lancashire, Lancashire and South Cumbria and the North West region.

I am pleased to say I have been shortlisted and am busy preparing for what will be a tough day.

What has been clear this week is that whoever is successful and offered the job will be taking the helm of a really great organisation, full of brilliant people who it is a honour to work with. Thank you for your ongoing contributions, for everything you are doing for each other, our patients and their families.

It is appreciated and, as I have demonstrated here, it is truly inspirational, leaving a legacy for local people all of its own.

Personally I am going to harness that energy, along with the spirit of the Lionesses and hope for my own win!