Published on: 31 May 2019

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Hello everyone, Damian here!

Last Friday I attended a regional launch event for the NHS Same Day Emergency Care strategy. This was included in the NHS Long Term Plan as an approach which would benefit both patients and the healthcare system by reducing waiting times and unnecessary hospital admissions.

I’m delighted to say that here at ELHT we are ahead of the game with our Ambulatory Care Unit, Respiratory Unit and Fragility Unit already successfully in place. Same day emergency care is one of the many ways we provide the right care, in the right place and at the right time for our patients. It means patients receive treatments over the course of a day (or evening), allowing them to return home afterwards, rather than being admitted. It makes for a much better patient experience too. And with the completion of the Phase 6 development in winter 2020 on the Blackburn Teaching Hospital site, we will be able to better meet the needs of our acutely ill patients.

We have all heard the stories about NHS shortages in clinical staff. It may surprise you to know that the number of clinical staff has actually increased! Unfortunately this ‘growth’ hasn’t kept up pace with the rising demand for services and the increase in very poorly patients. This has created a conundrum but also an opportunity.

We have been given the opportunity to look at our workforce to reshape and enhance it throughout the NHS. Part of this reshape is already happening at ELHT with the welcome introduction of medical associate professional roles, such as Physician Associates and Advanced Clinical Practitioners. We are also planning to enhance the roles of staff such as radiographers to become reporting radiographers, and trained nurses to perform routine endoscopies. This creates a much more highly skilled and adaptable workforce, which is stronger for whatever the future holds. Introducing new roles in an established healthcare workforce is not an easy task. Which is why it will be well thought-out and meticulously planned, and carried out with the duel aim of meeting both our patients’ and staffs need. 

Thursday was a typically busy day which started with me meeting members of one of those increasingly important staff groups - our talented team of phlebotomists. I recall as a junior doctor in the mid-1980s having to take blood samples from patients by myself. Nowadays trained phlebotomists carry out this role and are much more skilled at it than I ever was. They offer a better experience for the patient, free up junior medical staff to do other tasks, and are a great team that I wanted to thank personally for the essential work they do.

Also on Thursday I was more than happy to accept an invitation from our anaesthetics team who welcomed Dr Russell Perkins from the Royal College of Anaesthetists to the Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital. The occasion was the official announcement that our Trust has received full accreditation from the Royal College, a prestigious award made only to a limited number of hospitals, and reflects the high quality of care we provide. Well done to Dr Tim Clarke and his colleagues.

Finally, I would like to thank every one of the staff, families and carers who have been, and continue to be, involved in the difficult but important work of discussing organ donation. I issue these words of gratitude because the national 2018-19 Annual Organ donation report has just been released. During this time period our Trust referred 81 patients to the National Organ Donation Services Team. The report commends us highly, describing as “Exceptional” the presence of our Specialist Nurses when approaching families to discuss organ donation. It is a very sensitive issue, around which there is often confusion, misunderstanding, discomfort and upset. We are all immensely grateful to these brilliant staff for their calm and compassionate work; it really does transform and save lives! Maybe you could take two minutes out of your weekend to show your support and register your wishes.

I’m off on holiday, so I will be handing over to guest bloggers for the next couple of weeks. I look forward to hear all about what’s been going on around the Trust when I return.