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g CEO Report October 2023

National and system update

I would like to start my report by acknowledging the significant events taking place in the Middle East at the time of writing this report. With both Israeli and Palestinian colleagues in our BHT family, our thoughts are with those most personally affected.

In September we had our regular ‘tripartite’ meeting with colleagues from the BOB Integrated Care Board and NHS England South East regional team to discuss our progress against key performance measures in line with the NHS England Oversight Framework. Appended to this report is a summary letter which we received following this meeting (Appendix 1).

October is Black History Month and I am delighted to share that not one but two of our senior nursing leaders have been recognised in the 10 most influential Black, Asian and minority ethnic leaders in health and care by the Health Service Journal (HSJ) supported by the NHS Race and Health Observatory. We are extremely proud of Karen Bonner (Chief Nurse) and May Parsons (Associate Chief Nurse), and incredibly fortunate to have such clinical role models in our organisation. One of our Non-Executive Directors, Dr Adrian Hayter, is also recognised in the top 50 list.

Outstanding care

Key performance data are reported in the Integrated Performance Report with supporting narrative. I would note the challenges we are experiencing with patients being seen by a senior decision-maker within 60 minutes of arrival, and the increasing size of our acute waiting list, both of which were discussed at Transformation Board. On a positive note, we are seeing a statistical improvement in ambulance handovers, and with the number of bed days lost in month for patients who were medically optimised for discharge but not discharged. Regarding key metrics for our workforce, we continue to see positive trends in terms of vacancies and turnover, and statutory and mandatory training.

Significant work has gone in to ensuring we are as prepared as possible for the increased demand we anticipate each year over the winter period. A separate report is provided later in the Board agenda, which highlights five areas of focus, things we have already put in place over the summer months, and a series of interventions planned for the coming weeks which we anticipate will make meaningful improvements when demand is at its highest. This plan, developed with partners, has been reviewed by both the Buckinghamshire Health & Wellbeing Board and Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee.

We have also started our ‘Rapid Improvement Events’ in recent weeks. These are periods of intense support from our Quality Improvement team with sponsorship from an Executive Director. This series is targeted on the inpatient wards at Stoke Mandeville Hospital with a focus on making the patient stay as efficient as possible in line with best practice inpatient care e.g. planning for discharge at admission.

Our Research & Innovation department continues to go from strength to strength, and this month saw the inaugural Buckinghamshire Innovation Roundtable, a new collaboration between University of Buckingham Medical School, the Buckingham Enterprise and Innovation Unit, Buckinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and our Innovation team. The purpose is to identify key strengths that Buckinghamshire as a region has (e.g. precision engineering at Silverstone, creative industries at Pinewood, Space technology at Westcott and headquarters of international companies) to ensure we are using these to answer local healthcare needs, as well as develop new leading niche areas. Initial areas of interest include AI, leveraging 5G connectivity and extended realities. We look forward to seeing the outputs of this exciting collaboration.

I am delighted to share several commendations this month: firstly congratulations to our Clinical Trial Pharmacy Team who won the Outstanding Contribution to Clinical Support Services Award at this year’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network Thames Valley and South Midlands (LCRN) staff awards. A further seven members of the research team were Highly Commended at the awards for their contributions.

Secondly, our Psychology Team at the National Spinal Injuries Centre were invited by the Shirley Ryan Lab in Chicago to join in their application for a $4.2 million grant application from the USA National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research. The grant, also involving collaborators in collaborators in the USA, Australia, Canada, The Netherlands, and Norway, was recently awarded to examine Rehabilitation Length of Stay Following Spinal Cord Injury. More information can be read here.

And lastly, congratulations to Carers Bucks, who celebrated their 20th Birthday this month. This organisation provides invaluable support and advocacy for the wealth of people who perform a caring role for their friends or loved ones across the county and are an important partner for us in continuing to improve the experience of our patients.

This month there are numerous national campaigns which we have been recognising or celebrating across the Trust including World Mental Health Day, Baby Loss Awareness Week, and Black History Month. Allied Health Professionals Day will be a fantastic opportunity to recognise the numerous healthcare professions which may not immediately come to mind when we think of patient care, but which contribute significantly to excellent care and outcomes.

Healthy communities

I am delighted to confirm that our Health on the High Street unit is now open in Friar’s Square in Aylesbury. Local residents are able to access healthcare services and advice centred around the needs of the community, including:

  • Preventative healthcare advice and screening
  • Children and young people’s services
  • Maternity advice and support services
  • Vaccinations
  • Older peoples’ support

This pilot scheme is a joint initiative with Buckinghamshire Council and has been initiated in recognition of the fact that public services need to serve our communities better, especially in areas of deprivation where they need to be as easy as possible to access. A video describing more about the initiative can be watched here.

Continuing the theme of our ambition to deliver more care in our communities, we held on Older People’s Day at one of our sites in the south of the county, Chalfont & Gerrard’s Cross Community Hospital. Across the 70 or so people who attended the day, the team held 34 fitness reviews and 49 blood pressure checks. My thanks to the variety of specialists who supported the day.

Earlier this month we were delighted to be joined by Countess Howe, the Lord Lieutenant for Buckinghamshire, to celebrate achieving the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Gold Award by resigning the Armed Forces Covenant. The resigning underlines our commitment to supporting our local Armed Forces community across Buckinghamshire, both as patients and as our colleagues.

Great place to work

It was such a pleasure to celebrate our longest serving colleagues and volunteers this month. The NHS, more than any other industry, seems to instil a sense of loyalty and commitment in those who choose to work or volunteer in healthcare, and I am deeply humbled by the incredible stories I heard at these events. The patients they serve, either as patient-facing clinical staff or through our numerous support services, owe a huge debt of gratitude, and they have my personal sincerest thanks which I am sure the Board will echo.

This month the National Staff Survey opened, and we are strongly encouraging all colleagues from across the Trust to share their views about working at the Trust. The data we receive from this anonymous national initiative are so important – we know that how our colleagues feel positively correlates with the quality of care we provide, and this is the most comprehensive set of feedback we have access to, to inform our priorities as an organisation.

October is Speaking Up month, and recent tragic events at the Countess of Chester Hospital are a stark reminder of the paramount importance of this service. This year the national theme focuses on Breaking Barriers. We are also working to emphasise the other critical elements of Speaking Up, namely Listening Up and Following Up.

Finally, huge congratulations to the team from our National Spinal Injuries Centre who won the 2023 Inter Spinal Unit Games. This year 11 spinal units from around the UK and Europe took part in the games, which provide opportunity for recently injured adults to discover life- transforming benefits from taking part in sport.