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In last week’s message I touched on how busy our hospitals are and continue to be and I would like to share some of the work I am focused on with colleagues and partner organisations to relieve the pressure. Whilst many of you are quite rightly focused on the pathways and processes inside our hospitals, I have been spending time looking at the pathways into and out of our hospitals to maintain flow.

It is clear that much of the demand we are experiencing originates from our frail elderly population and so I’m really pleased to have been asked to be a member of North West Surrey’s Strategic Change Board. The Board is overseeing the implementation of a locality hub model to proactively care for patients in the community, promoting independence and reducing hospital admission. The first hub is expected to open in Woking in December and the whole programme is being advised by our very own Dr Radcliffe Lisk, Consultant Ortho-geriatrician, which gives me a good degree of confidence – no pressure Radcliffe!

Our operations team led by Valerie Bartlett is working with Social Care and Virgin Care to consider how we implement recommendations that patients should be “discharged to assess”, and rehabilitated at home where reasonable and safe to do so. We are aiming to have some of this plan in place by the end of the year should improve the occupancy and flow in and across our hospitals.

 

An area of internal focus is how we use escalation areas, how much we minimise their use but maximise quality, safety and effectiveness if we do have to use additional beds. This may result in grouping people together and the closure of more traditional escalation areas of the hospital. I know this is an area of great concern and I want to reassure you that I am working with others to improve the situation for all as soon as possible.

I am sure we would all wish to see immediate and radical improvements but I’m not in a position to promise that and certainly don’t wish to create a sense of expectation that later fails, but I did want to reassure you that we are investing considerable energy into opportunities for improvement and aiming to build a much more resilient local health economy.

 

I know and understand the toll this level of demand and working commitment makes on us as individuals but also as an organisation, and believe that building individual and organisational resilience is really important. Looking after ourselves and staying healthy will help to create resilient teams and a positive working environment. NHS Choices lists 5 steps to well-being:

  1. connect – connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours.
  2. be active – you don't have to go to the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Find the activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life.
  3. keep learning – learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. So why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, or figure out how to fix your bike?
  4. give to others – even the smallest act can count, whether it's a smile, a thank you or a kind word.
  5. take notice – be more aware of the present moment, including your feelings and thoughts, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness "mindfulness", and it can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.

I’m not preaching and I don’t have points 1 – 5 all taped-up – more time in the gym and less chocolate would be a good start - but I do believe that taking time to find just one or two coping mechanisms that work for us as individuals can really help when we are under pressure.

Schwartz Rounds are another way to build organisational resilience and provide an opportunity for teams to share the emotional burden of caring with colleagues and can be really powerful. I attended the most recent Round on Wednesday and found the time spent listening and reflecting with colleagues both calming and uplifting. I really encourage you all to come along to these really worthwhile sessions.

 

Another idea, which came from my chat room, was to try and create more of a community spirit here, especially for those of you who live on site. As a result, we are setting up a staff social committee to do just that.

Socialising with colleagues and getting to know people outside your normal working day can also help to build our resilience but it will only work if you get involved. How much involvement you have is entirely down to you - taking part in an occasional event or being a member of the committee.

With best wishes,

 

Suzanne Rankin
Chief Executive