Published on: 17 January 2020

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Hello everyone, and welcome to my blog this week.

As ever, it’s been really busy and really interesting.

You may have heard that the latest Monthly A&E Attendance and Emergency Admission statistics show that December was an incredibly busy month across the whole NHS. This probably comes as no surprise, with flu and norovirus adding to the usual winter pressures.

At ELHT, while 96 per cent of patients attending for minor injuries were treated and discharged in less than four hours, managing our patients with major injuries and illnesses has been more difficult. Admitting our emergency patients is often complex and requires decisions to be made by a number of professionals across the health and social care system so can take longer than four hours. We understand this can cause frustration and upset and are working hard to improve our processes and reduce delays. Our Winter Plan, developed in partnership with our health and social care partners in East Lancashire, is proving to be successful. Last month, we opened a new 35-bed Emergency Surgical Unit at the Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital to speed up assessment and admission for surgical patients. This has been a significant undertaking and required a lot of hard work in a very short amount of time. Thank you to everyone who contributed to getting this unit up and running. We’ve had success in reducing both the number of delayed discharges as well as the average length of stay for hospital patients.

And just this week, we’ve staged one of our regular ‘Perfect Week’ exercises to ensure that the right number of staff are able to do the right thing at the right time to support the safe, effective and timely discharge of patients. There has been some fantastic work, with increased effectiveness of our Discharge Lounge and reduced waits for endoscopy procedures for example. I have no doubt the exercise has been a success and will report more on the results next week. In the meantime, thank you to everyone who took part and/ or contributed in some way. Now, we need to keep up the momentum!

Our commitment to extensive, system-wide improvement across health and care in Pennine Lancashire remains as strong as ever. This week we were delighted to host a visit by David Fillingham who is our executive improvement ‘sensei’ from NHS England/Improvement. He saw clear evidence of staff embedding improvement practise with clear examples of ‘visual management’ and effective ‘flow’ and ‘pull’. This is terminology you will all be hearing more of as we continue our improvement journey. David also visited our Laundry Services – themselves the subject of improvement practise – who have recently secured a place on the national framework to potentially win government and public sector contracts for laundry/linen. Well done to everyone involved.

We had our Board Meeting this week, and instead of a patient story, we heard a ‘staff story’, and I’d like to offer a huge thanks to the member of staff for kindly sharing their experience. The story was equally poignant and reminded us of the importance of compassionate leadership. Thanks to effective mediation – something the Trust has championed for many years – we avoided losing valuable members of our team who without this intervention may not have been able to overcome their problems. Sincere thanks also go to Karl Cockerill, who has led the mediation programme. He is passionate about his work and sees first-hand the heartache that can be avoided when mediation is successful. We truly value all our members of staff and it is really important that we do everything we can to support and look after our staff. Mediation is only one example of this, but as you know, we have a great Health and Wellbeing team and I hope all staff know what they are able to offer. You can find out more via the Staff Zone on Oli.

Thank you all once again for your continued support in providing safe, personal and effective care for our patients.